10 Illegal Ways to Make Money

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illegal ways to make money

Are you looking for ways to make some extra money? At the same time, it may be tempting to pursue illegal activities. They can cause serious legal problems and should be avoided at all costs. However, sometimes understanding what not to do can help direct oneself in the right direction.

The primary purpose of this article is to educate you on the consequences of illegal activity and to provide an accurate list of illegal money-making methods. Despite the potential for severe legal repercussions, many people still attempt these illegal activities, so you need to be aware of them. This article will outline ten popular illegal ways to make money and why steering clear is the best action.

Illegal Ways to Make Money

Ponzi Scheme

A Ponzi scheme is an illegal way to make money. It is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors without any actual profit-making operations.

Typically, a Ponzi scheme will offer investors increasingly higher returns and make fictitious promises of profit. As a result, individual investors are duped into thinking they will receive high returns with little risk when the money they invest is used to pay previous investors and the perpetrators of the scheme.

The main goal of the scheme is to make money off of new investments, and if they are successful, they may initially pay out bonuses to attract investors. When these bonuses are paid, investors believe the investment is successful; as a result, more people will invest in the Ponzi scheme. However, as more people invest, the schemer will eventually be unable to pay out promised returns, leading to the Ponzi scheme collapsing.

Another hallmark of a Ponzi scheme is the use of high-pressure sales tactics. These tactics may involve the schemer exaggerating the potential profits of the investment, falsely claiming that the returns have been guaranteed, or even contacting potential victims directly via phone or email.

Sell Drugs

Selling drugs is an illegal activity that some individuals perceive as an easy or fast means of earning money. However, it is not a path that should be pursued:

  1. Engaging in unlawful activities can lead to imprisonment, jeopardizing personal freedom.
  2. The trade is fraught with risks, such as being caught by law enforcement or facing competition from other dealers, which can lead to constant paranoia. Popular culture depictions of drug kingpins like those in the movies Scarface and Blow illustrate the high stakes involved.
  3. Drug sales can inflict severe damage on communities and undermine the moral fabric of society.

The negative impact of drug abuse is well-documented, and contributing to such problems cannot be reconciled with personal ethics. Therefore, selling drugs is not a viable option for making money.

Rob a Bank

Firstly, let’s be clear about one thing: robbery of any kind is illegal, so there is no such thing as an “ethical bank robbery” or anything of the sort. No matter the motive, justification, or even the amount of money involved, breaking into any financial institution is a crime and will be prosecuted.

So, if you’re still considering robbing a bank, here are some risks. Firstly, you need to consider the physical danger. Banks are likely to have security systems such as alarms and guards that could put you in immediate danger if you attempt to break in. The police response time to a robbery is usually pretty quick. If you don’t act quickly, you could end up in a hazardous situation with the potential for serious injury or even death.

Secondly, you need to consider the legal consequences. Robbery is considered a severe offense and could lead to a lengthy jail sentence. The exact sentence would depend on several factors, including how much money was stolen and how violent or damaging the act was. Even if you get away with the robbery and return home safely, you could still be caught and face serious repercussions.

Sell Fake Online Courses

Selling fake online courses is an illegal way to make money; unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common. People create systems with fake content, guaranteeing buyers they’ll learn things they won’t. It’s one of the most unethical ways to generate revenue and has serious consequences.

If you’re considering selling a course with fake content, the first tip is don’t. It’s illegal and immoral for your reputation as an individual or a business. You’ll be in trouble if caught with a fake course.

So, how do you sell a fake online course? In short, you lie. You create a course advertised as one thing, but the course is entirely different. Making a course look legitimate is often easier by buying stock images, creating a fake website, and serving up fraudulently written Information. You can even pay people to write fake reviews of your course to give it an air of credibility.

If you are considering this method, know that you will have fake legal documents and contracts and will have to lie about aspects of your course. You’re scamming people out of their money by selling a fake online course. Buyers of fake courses can file a lawsuit, and you could be subject to severe penalties, fines, and jail time.

Plus, by selling a fake online course, you’ll be giving a bad name to the honest course creators out there, and your reputation will be damaged massively.


Prostitution is illegal in most countries worldwide, and for a good reason – it’s a form of exploitation that takes advantage of vulnerable people. Despite this, it persists in some form in most places worldwide, usually due to poverty, gender inequality, or a lack of opportunities.

People enter prostitution in different ways. In some cases, they actively choose it, while in other cases, they are coerced by circumstances or manipulated by third parties who take advantage of their situation. They’re usually promised large payments of money that are rarely forthcoming and may be promised other benefits such as protection or a place to stay.

The people involved in prostitution may be the parties involved in a transactional relationship and third parties who act as pimps. Pimps benefit from influential relationships with the people providing and procuring sex and control the transactions by taking a commission for the services offered.

The risks for those who enter prostitution are very high and include violence, exploitation, abuse, and even trafficking. Prostitutes can suffer physical injury and may be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases or face the threat of prosecution. They may also be subject to psychological and social problems due to the stigma attached to prostitutes.

So why do people enter prostitution in the first place? Reasons vary, including poverty, a lack of economic options, desperation, ignorance of the potential risks, or a quest for a sense of freedom and control. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that prostitution is illegal and carries serious risks to the person involved and society as a whole.

Sell Fake Goods

Selling fake goods is one of the most common illegal ways to make money. This includes imitation products and knockoffs of famous brands. To successfully sell counterfeit goods, you must find the right market and understand what sells. These items can be found in manufacturers from countries like China, Thailand, and other East-Asian countries.

Counterfeit items can range from clothes, bags, and jewelry to electronics, software, and luxury cars. With these factories’ technology and production methods, the knockoff items can look very close to the original. It’s no surprise that people who are looking to make money illegally look to sell fake goods.

However, this can lead to some serious legal sanctions. In the US, selling items that infringe on trademarks, copyrights, and patents is illegal. This means that any product that bears a trademark logo without authorization can be liable for criminal penalties. This also applies to businesses that knowingly purchase and sell fake products. In the worst-case scenario, people could face heavy fines and even jail time.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud, also known as “carding,” is when someone steals or clones a credit or debit card and uses it to make unauthorized purchases. This is illegal and has serious consequences, but some people still use carding to make money.

The most common way of carding is to apply for a credit card using false Information, such as a fake name or social security number. This is known as “application fraud” and can be done online or by mail. Once the false application is accepted, the carder can use the card to buy things that can be quickly resold for a profit.

Other forms of carding include using stolen or cloned cards to purchase something initially, then returning the item for a full refund. The carder can make money this way by pocketing the refund while the card’s rightful owner is billed.

Carders can also buy and sell card numbers, names, and PINs on the black market. This virtual market allows carders to trade Information and purchase credit and debit cards that have been stolen by hacking or other devious means. The black market makes carding much easier and more accessible, unfortunately.

Scam People

Scamming people is an illegal and unethical method of making money that should be avoided. The harm inflicted on victims can be severe and far-reaching, with older adults especially vulnerable to financial scams. Scams can manifest in various forms, making it essential to remain vigilant. Individuals who engage in scamming behavior lack empathy and exploit the trust of others, demonstrating a callous disregard for the consequences of their actions. The mantra “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is a helpful reminder to exercise caution in all financial dealings. Adopting ethical practices and avoiding individuals associated with such behaviors is crucial in avoiding any negative impact of such activities.

Steal Stuff

It may seem like a no-brainer, but let it be clear that stealing is against the law and can lead to serious punishments like fines, civil lawsuits, and even prison time. That being said, if you’re willing to take the risk, there are several ways to make money through theft.

A common way is to shoplift. You can steal anything from stores, including household items, clothing, and even electronics. You then can turn around and sell those items online. Remember, if you’re caught, you will likely face legal penalties and be permanently banned from the store.

Another way to steal is to rob someone. This is a serious crime and can result in sentences from weeks to years, depending on the severity of the case. 

One other way to make money illegally through theft is to break into people’s houses. This is also a serious crime; you could face even harsher punishments than shoplifters and robbers. 

Being a Bookie

Being a bookie is another illegal way to make money, but it’s also something that has been a part of the underground economy since betting on sports has been around. The way it works is you find someone looking to place a wager on a sporting event or race, and you basically act as the middleman who takes the bet and pays out to the customer if they win.

One of the biggest challenges of being a bookie is keeping up with all the bets and knowing who to pay and when. You also need to supply the customer with odds and lines, track the score and results, and settle up with the customer at the end. It would be best if you were organized, had a good system for organizing your paperwork and records, and could keep track of everyone’s bets.

Consider the legal risks of being a bookie. Fortunately, the legal landscape has changed in the past few years, and it’s now more accepted than ever before. You’re still taking a risk, and there’s a chance that you could get caught and have to face the consequences. Many gamblers these days bet online or at their local casino, so bookies are becoming a thing of the past.

Making money illegally is a bad idea, despite the potential for making extra cash. Any of the activities listed here can have serious consequences if you’re caught. Therefore, it’s always important to think twice before embarking on illegal activities and to find other legal ways to make money. Jail and prison time aren’t worth risking for potential unlawful gain.

If you need ideas on how to make extra money grab my eBook titled “30 Ways to Make Extra Money” HERE.


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Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.