So I been reading a little on Adam Worth - the “genius” mastermind behind some of the most daring robberies committed.
Seems to me like this guy should top out the list when it comes to career criminals who pull off clever but illegal stunts.
But can you think of any better nominees? Are there any secret masterminds who have circumvented capture for years? How about those who were caught, but found to be involved in the most sophisticated schemes of all time?
For clarity sakes, lets stick to thieving types. In other words, criminals whose sole enterprise is stealing shit from other folks in some fashion or another (fraud, conmen, jewel heisters etc.). Guys and gals in this thing for profit.
Who was the cleverest and most proficient mastermind of them all?
No Moriarty is not a valid answer. We’re talking about real life criminals here, not fictional folks.
Well, there was Meyer Lansky, who was involved in bootlegging, illegal gambling, extortion, drug dealing, prostitution, and who carried all this on from the 1920s to the 1970s. Does he count?
One of the biggest thefts in the US was probably the Lufthansa Heist of 1978, pulled off by the “Roberts Lounge Gang”, and led by Jimmy “the Gent” Burke and Pauli Vario. Even though pretty much everyone involved died in jail or were killed when the gang fell out, they did steal about $5.8 million, and most of that was never recovered.
Ever since I saw a television show on the topic, I’ve found Albert Spaggiari to be a rather impressive criminal. I’m not familiar with the other guys mentioned, so I can’t say how he compares to them. Still, millions stolen, a daring escape, and never seen again.
John Jamelskie, who kept one sex slave after another imprisoned in his private bunker for 30 years, has to rank pretty high on any list of resilient, calculating sociopaths.
But my grand prize would have to go to the infamous Dr. Henry Holmes. It takes a very special kind of confident enterprise to erect a multi-story rooming house in a great urban center for the express purpose of multiple torture-murder.
So they didn’t steal. (Well, they stole lives.) I don’t think that affects “clarity” in the least: they were very, very good at what they did, and were able to do it to many people and (in Jamelskie’s case) for a very, very long time.
There aren’t any good links online, and it’s an obscure pick, but I’d go with George Leonidas Leslie, who, during his peak in the 1870’s, may have had a hand in a majority of all bank robberies in the US.
He never was convicted, only was arrested once (at the very beginning of his career), and was involved (usually as a consultant) in the theft of tens of millions of dollars- in 1870’s money.