Vanished! 10 People Who Took the Money and Ran

Take the Money and RunNow for a little something different.

I love real life mysteries. I recently stumbled upon a list of people who vanished mysteriously (don't you love the Internet and all it's weirdness?).

I thought it would be interesting to list the one's who disappeared and were able to get away with the loot. I'm also including some of those from the FBI's most wanted lists.

This isn't meant to celebrate these people. Heck, if you see any of them, tell the authorities. In most cases, someone was defrauded or even killed in their attempts to take the money and run.

The Pirate – 1696 – I had to go way back in time to find this one. Henry Every, the English pirate, took the money and ran. In fact, he's considered one of the most successful pirates in history. After making his last and hugely profitable raid, he completely vanished. Even though a big bounty was placed on him and people around the world were looking for him, he was never heard from again. £600,000

The Four Foot Realtor – 2009 – If you have a distressed home, watch out for these types. Don't trust anyone to come in and “save” you from your situation. The 4'11” Julieanne Dimitrion and her husband, John, are mortgage specialists, mortgage fraud specialist that is. Their scheme: convince underwater homeowners to sell their homes to them. Julieanne and John promised to let the people stay in the home and then they would take the proceeds from the future sale of the home and invest it, earning more money back to the original homeowner. They pocketed the money vs investing it and then fled Oahu, Hawaii after being found out.

The Skyjacker – 1971 – You've no doubt heard of D. B. (or just Dan) Cooper, and seen his infamous sketch artist rendering. D.B. boarded a plan from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, informed the crew that he had a bomb and demanded that they land, where he would be given a $200,000 ransom and a parachute. Once they were back in the air, he parachuted off the back stairs of the plane. Only portions of the money have been found. $200,000

The Snorkeling CPA – 2009 – It's always the guy you least expect, isn't it? James T. Hammes was a financial controller with too much banking access. Over several years, Mr. Hammes supposedly transferred around $9 million in hard earned company money into a separate bank account, which he had access to. After being notified of his impending arrest, he just vanished. Hammes is a scuba diver and pilot. Something tells me he flew a plane down to the Carribean and is having a really good time with all of that money. $9,000,000

The Movie Producer – 1984 – Edward L. Montoro was a B movie maker/distributor here in the U.S. He distributed Grizzly and Great White (the Jaws ripoff). His copy-cat ways got the better of him in 1980 when Universal successfully sued him for $4 million. A few years later he gather up more than $1 million from his company's vaults and high tailed it. No one knows where he went, nor has anyone seen him since. $1,000,000

The Vegas Poet – 1993 – Roberto Solis spent many years in prison (where he began is poetry-writing ways), but none for his last crime. He and his girlfriend, Heather Tallchief, crafted a plan to steal an armored truck during a run between Vegas casinos. Heather took a job with the armored vehicle service and within a month made her move. She stole an armored truck with $2.5 million inside. Then she and Roberto stashed the armored truck, shipped some of the cash, and boarded a charter plane to Denver disguised as an old doctor and nurse. Eventually Heather turned herself in and served her time, but Solis is still on the run. $2,500,000

Albert Spaggiari Movie

The story of Albert Spaggiari's heist was made into a French film.

The French Bankrobber – 1976 – The life of Albert Spaggiari seems fit for a movie. His most successful heist was breaking into the Société Générale bank in Nice and getting away with 60 million francs worth of money and valuables.

The vault in this bank was supposed to be full proof. Albert's solution: come up through the floor via the sewer system over a three-day weekend.

Although Albert was eventually brought in for trial, but jumped out a window and sped away on a motorcycle never to be seen again until his death in 1989. 60,000,000 French franc

The Educated Thief – 2004 – There's nothing interesting about this next thug other than he happens to look like Sean Penn and he's got a degree. He's a cold-blooded murderer and he did it all for only $56,000. Jason Derek Brown is listed on the FBI's top ten most wanted list for murder and armed robbery in Phoenix, Arizona. Back in 2004, Brown supposedly shot and killed an armored vehicle guard just outside a movie theater. He then fled with the money never to be seen again. $56,000

The River Boat Investor – 1998 – Here's a quick, but elaborate way to make a lot of money: setup fake telemarketing companies aimed at squeezing old people for their money who think they are “investing” in a river boat casino. Peter Medel Aro did this back in 1998 and got away with around $5 million dollars. He double dipped by pulling the same move in a fake music industry “investment”. Once convicted, he hit the road and has never looked back. He's possibly in Miami. $5,000,000

The Iranian Kingpin – 2002 – Omid Tahvili, born in Tehran, is wanted for, among plenty of other things, a similar bogus telemarketing business. This time, telemarketers would call elderly people telling them they won the lottery but would have to pay an advanced administrative fee to collect the winnings. Sounds a lot like the Nigerian email scam, doesn't it? Omid stole over $3 million from his victims. Even though Omid has served some time for his crimes, he's never been held accountable for this lottery scheme. He broke out of jail by bribing a security officer and disguising himself as a janitor. $3,000,000

If you see any of these folks, turn them in. There's likely a handsome reward waiting for you. Have you ever been tempted to take the money and run?

Sources: FBI, Wikipedia

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  1. This is fascinating. I’ve never heard any of these stories before, but they certainly underscore just how creative — and complex — financial criminals can be. There’s a tendency among some people in society to assume that financial criminals are unintelligent or unsophisticated, but that’s certainly not always the case.
    There are many hackers and other highly-skilled financial crime rings that swindle innocent people out of their hard-earned money. (In addition, there are plenty of accidental oversights, non-malicious and non-criminal in nature, that also cause people to pay unwanted charges and lose their money.) Thanks for drawing attention to this issue.

  2. InvestorJunkie says:

    D. B.  Cooper more than likely died from the jump.

  3. Great job with this article.  It was certainly an interesting and entertaining read.