Top 15 smartest criminals in history

In no particular order:

15. Bernie Madoff

Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff was an American financier who executed the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors out of tens of billions of dollars over the course of at least 17 years, possibly longer.

14. Ricky Donnell “Freeway Rick” Ross

He is a convicted drug trafficker best known for the drug empire he established in Los Angeles, California, United States (US)in the early to mid-1980s.

Ross began selling cocaine after his illiteracy prevented him from earning a tennis scholarship for college.

Federal prosecutors estimated that between 1982 and 1989 Ross bought and resold several metric tons of cocaine. In 1980 dollars, his gross earnings were said to be in excess of $900 million – with a profit of nearly $300 million.

As his distribution empire grew to include forty-two cities, the price he paid per kilo of powder cocaine dropped from as much as $60,000 to as low as $10,000.”

Much of Ross’s success at evading law enforcement was due to his ring’s possession of police scanners and voice scramblers.

13. Hamza Bendelladj

Born either in 1988 or in 1989 in Tizi Ouzou, Hamza Bendelladj is an Algerian cyber-criminal and a carder who goes by the code name BX1 and has been nicknamed the “Smiling Hacker”.

Bendelladj is a polyglot speaking 5 languages often used in profit in view of his linguistic knowledge in order to extract money almost everywhere in the world. This led to a search for him that lasted 5 years.

He was on the top 10 list of the most wanted hackers by Interpol and the FBI for allegedly embezzling tens of millions of dollars from more than two hundred American and European financial institutions, via a computer virus, the “SpyEYE Botnet” that infected more than 60 million computers worldwide (mostly from the United States), which he developed with his Russian accomplice Aleksandr Andreivich Panin, aka “Gribodemon”, to steal banking information stored on infected computers.

According to reports, he hacked billions of US dollars from 217 banks. Gave all the money to poor people of Africa and Palestine and accepted his death sentence with a smile. His death sentence was however debunked to be a rumour. The US ambassador to Algeria, Joan A. Polaschik wrote on her Twitter account, “that computer crimes are not capital crimes and are not punishable by the death penalty”.

12. John Dillinger

An American gangster who during the great depression in the country, robbed 24 banks and a number of police stations.

He was arrested several times but escaped twice. He inspired the movie Public Enemies.

Dillinger was imprisoned several times and escaped twice.

11. Charles Ponzi

He was an Italian businessman and con artist in the U.S. and Canada. He became known in the early 1920s as a swindler in North America for his money-making scheme. He promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the United States as a form of arbitrage.

A steady flow of new clients allowed him to pay existing investors while pocketing millions of dollars himself.

But soon enough, the scheme began to raise eyebrows, eventually collapsing and bringing six banks down with it. Collectively, his investors lost an estimated $20 million.

10. Hushpuppi

At the time Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas was arrested along with eleven other Nigerian scammers, the police seized around $40 million in cash and hard disks containing the addresses of almost two million victims.

The arrest was part of a United States FBI investigation dubbed “Fox Hunt 2.” which revealed Hushpuppi to be one of the main people running the Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams.

These are a form of cyber-fraud that involves hacking corporate emails and sending fake messages to clients to redirect financial transfers and steal bank details.

The police used Abbas’s Instagram and Snapchat accounts to track and confirm his whereabouts and gather evidence to charge him. It is believed he already scammed his victims of over $ 24 million.

9. Emmanuel Nwude

Emmanuel Nwude a former Director of Union Bank of Nigeria successfully defrauded a Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste based in Sao Paulo, Mr Nelson Sakaguchi, and sold a fake airport for $242 million. Mr Nwude impersonated Paul Ogwuma the then Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria, and convinced Mr Sakaguchi to invest in a new airport in the nation’s capital, Abuja in exchange for a 10 million commission. The crime occurred in 1995 and wasn’t discovered until 1998.

8. Pablo Escobar

When Escobar was born in 1949 in Antioquia, Colombia. His mother was a School Teacher and his father was a Farmer.

Pablo was ambitious from the beginning, and he used to tell his friends that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 22. By the 1980s Escobar controlled 80% of the cocaine traffic going into the US.

The cartel moved 70 to 80 tons of cocaine into the country per month. At the height of his reign, Pablo Escobar was making around $420 million each week.

Escobar spent roughly $2,500 a month on rubber bands for his cash. From 1987 until 1993, Escobar made the Forbes list of international billionaires. In 1989, he ranked as the seventh-richest man in the world.

7. The Unabomber

Ted Kaczynski had an IQ of 167, greater than that of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. He attended Harvard and finished with a 3.12 GPA, above average.

He taught at the University of Michigan and UC Berkley while he was in his 20s. When his reign of his terror began.

He sent bombs through the mail to various education institutions, business executives, and airports.

He continued this from 1978–1995 without getting caught. He was caught in 1996 after the FBI began the most expensive investigation in its history to catch him.

In 1995, he promised that he would end his attacks if his essay, Industrial Society and Its Future, was published in a prominent publication. The Washington Post and The New York Times both published his essay, which clocked in at 35,000 words.

6. El Chapo

Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera commonly known as “El Chapo” escaped a highly secured prison not once but twice successfully.

On charges of Murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking, he was arrested for 20 years in 1993 and kept in a Mexico jail.

As he became very rich by his cartel’s success he bribed about 2.5 million to the prison officers and easily escaped on 19 January 2001. He was arrested again on 22nd February 1944. This time he was kept in a very isolated prison and did not get any luxuries.

He could only get out for 1 hour of his prison cell and the guards were also not allowed to talk to him.

To escape this time his men bought land about 0.7 miles away from the prison and started to construct a tunnel to El Chapo’s prison’s bath area,

On 11 July 2015 at 9 pm El Chapo was seen going towards the bath area and soon vanished.

5. DB Cooper

DB Cooper is a name the media used to refer to an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 mid-flight near Seattle in 1971.

He made off with $200,000 in ransom money before parachuting to an unknown fate. The man has never been identified.

4. Natwarlal

Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava was a lawyer who turned into the ‘great Indian con man. He sold prized monuments of India and duped big-shot industrialists with sheer ease. He sold the Taj Mahal thrice! And even the Parliament House of India (along with its 545 sitting members) to gullible foreigners by posing as a government official.

He was arrested as many as 9 times but each time he managed to break away. He even faked his death twice.

3. Frank William Abagnale Jr.

He carried out his criminal activities between the ages of 16 and 21. Within this period, he forged his driver’s license to seem ten years older and then opened several bank accounts using different identities.

To remove suspicion while cashing his forged checks, he decided to become a pilot. He forged a pilot’s license and an employee ID.

He forged $2.5 million worth of bank checks across 26 countries he had flown to as a pilot. Shortly after he stopped working as a pilot he moved to Georgia where he became a paediatrician.

He quit after he almost killed a baby. He then moved on to work as a lawyer claiming to have graduated from Harvard. When he was arrested in 1969 twelve countries sought his extradition.

While he was in prison he posed as an undercover inspector and this made him receive special treatments. He is the inspiration for the movie “Catch Me if you can”.

2. Victor Lustig

The man who sold the el tower twice. It is believed to be the biggest scam in the world. The book Handsome Devil is inspired by Victor Lustig’s life. He was considered the most flamboyant and daring con man.

It was 1925 and Victor Lustig was sitting in his Paris hotel room reading a newspaper article about the Eiffel Tower and how the French government was having difficulty finding the funds for its maintenance. This gave the idea to Victor to sell it. And he did, twice.

1. Mark DeFRIEST

He is the most talented jailbreak master in history! At the age of 19, he was imprisoned and became a nightmare for all prison guards in the United States.

In 35 years of prison life, he was tortured by prison guards and bullied by prisoners. He tried to escape 13 times and succeeded 7 times.

The most unimaginable thing is that his initial sentence was only four years. But because he always escaped from jail, the final sentence was increased to 105 years.

Some of the masterminds on the list curled from @Aya_Kleo Twitter thread.

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