13 Little-Known Criminals Who Committed Big-Time Crimes

Voting Rules
Vote up the criminals you can't believe you've never heard of before.

Whether it's the extent of their actions, how they got caught, or the continued search for their identities, some offenders are pretty well known. Alongside the mobsters, thieves, and other offenders we may recognize from the media, movies about their lives, and documentaries, there are criminals who committed comparable - if not bigger - offenses, but we don't know much about them.

There are little-known crooks throughout history who, for one reason or another, never received the same attention for their unlawful behaviors. Based on how widespread, intense, and downright cruel some of them were, it's surprising they've escaped general notice. Vote up the ones you are shocked you've never heard of until now. 

  • 1
    601 VOTES

    Carl Gugasian Was So Good At Robbing Banks, He Made A Training Video For The FBI

    Carl Gugasian decided at a young age that he was going to be a criminal - and be good at it. Gugasian grew up in Pennsylvania, served in the military, and robbed dozens of banks along the Eastern seaboard from the early 1970s to 2001. 

    Known as the "Friday Night Bank Robber" because he carried out his heists on Friday nights, Gugasian had developed a strategy. He targeted small towns, used maps to identify escape routes - usually by foot - and staked out each of the banks he robbed. He only hit banks between October and April, when early darkness would help conceal his identity. He also wore clothing and a Halloween mask that rendered him unidentifiable.

    It wasn't until February 2002 that Gugasian's line of robberies came to an end. He was arrested in a Philadelphia library following several months of FBI investigations after two boys discovered guns, ammunition, cash, and other preparatory tools in late 2001 stashed in the woods near Radnor, PA. By the time he was apprehended, Gugasian had robbed somewhere between 50 and 70 banks, stealing $2 million in the process.  

    At trial, he said: 

    While I have always rationalized my conduct by believing that robbing banks had no victim, I have come to realize that everyone who was forced to endure the harrowing experience of a robbery suffered tremendous harm, even though they were not physically injured.

    Gugasian, whom Assistant US Attorney Linwood C. Wright, Jr. said "may well be the most prolific bank robber this nation has ever known," agreed to help authorities catch other bank robbers by making a training video for the FBI. 

    • Age: 74
    • Birthplace: Broomall, PA
    601 votes
  • Robert Hansen Released His Victims Into The Wilderness So He Could Hunt Them Down
    Photo: Leslie Slater / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Robert Hansen grew up in Iowa but moved to Anchorage, AK, during the 1960s. While living in Anchorage, he had many encounters with law enforcement, but it wasn't until 1983 that his most heinous offenses came to light.

    After a woman Hansen had kidnapped escaped and alerted authorities, they searched his property, discovering jewelry belonging to missing women alongside maps of gravesites. When they interviewed Hansen, he confessed to raping more than 30 women and killing 17.

    Through the course of the investigation, Hansen told authorities he targeted sex workers, telling them they'd be fine as long as they did exactly what he wanted. He'd take them to his cabin, brutalize them, and later transport them to the woods. Then he would release them and hunt them like a "trophy Dahl sheep, or a grizzly bear."

    Hansen, dubbed the "Butcher Baker," went on trial in 1984, during which assistant district attorney Frank Rothschild watched as "mild-mannered Bob the Baker" transformed into "the monster he was." He received 461 years in prison, and police were convinced more victims existed whom Hansen never mentioned.

    • Age: Dec. at 75 (1939-2014)
    • Birthplace: Estherville, IA
    428 votes
  • George Leonidas Leslie Was The 'King Of Bank Robbers' Who Never Lived To See His Payday
    Photo: Various / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    401 VOTES

    George Leonidas Leslie Was The 'King Of Bank Robbers' Who Never Lived To See His Payday

    As a trained architect, George Leonidas Leslie had the knowledge necessary to start robbing banks. After studying at the University of Cincinnati, Leslie moved to New York City. He was charming and ran prominent social circles, giving him information and resources to carry out bank robberies. With the help of Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum, a criminal mastermind in her own right in New York, Leslie formed a gang of thieves who robbed their first bank in 1869.  

    He was meticulous in planning, used blueprints and building models, designed heist tools, and rehearsed robberies with his associates. Leslie, who also went by Western George and George Howard, led the group in what was later said to be 80% of the bank robberies in the US between roughly 1869 and 1878. All told, Leslie and his crew stole $7-$12 million.

    Alas, the so-called "King of Bank Robbers" didn't live long enough to see his windfall. In May 1878, Leslie disappeared, and in June, his body was found with bullet holes in the head and heart. His killer was never identified. After his body was identified, no one would pay for his burial, so he was placed in a pauper's grave in Cypress Hill Cemetery.

    • Age: 35-36
    401 votes
  • 4
    293 VOTES

    William Chaloner Was 'The Most Accomplished Counterfeiter' In The United Kingdom 

    During the 17th century, William Chaloner made coins in Birmingham, England, before moving to London. Once he arrived in London, he began using his skills with metal to make counterfeit goods - everything from coins to sexual devices

    It was Chaloner's coin schemes that attracted the attention of Sir Isaac Newton, the Warden (1696-99) and then Master (1699-1727) of the Royal Mint. Newton - who wasn't knighted until 1705 - was tasked with standardizing coins, which meant weeding out coin clippers who were devaluing existing money. He was especially against counterfeiting as well, which is why Chaloner was a notable menace.

    Counterfeiting was endemic in England, and Chaloner was among the best-known in the craft. He targeted the Royal Mint, the Bank of England, and, by his own account, "coined over 30,000 guineas and... there was no man in England better able to engrave forge plates for bills of exchange." Chaloner was, according to his contemporaries, "the most accomplished counterfeiter in the kingdom."

    Making fake coins was considered treason, and Newton was ready to punish offenders to the full extent of the law. After a decidedly thorough investigation, Chaloner was arrested and tried for treason in 1699. Despite sending numerous letters to Newton begging for his life, Chaloner was hanged.

    • Age: 48-49
    • Birthplace: Warwickshire, England, UK, 1650
    293 votes
  • Jacques Mesrine Was The Frenchman With '1,000 Faces'
    Photo: Mesrine: Killer Instinct / Pathe / Alliance Films

    Jacques Mesrine didn't limit himself to one type of crime; rather, he robbed, kidnapped, and murdered across continents for decades. He served in the French military during the 1950s before entering a life of crime. After spending time in Canada and South America, he returned to France during the early 1970s, where he became a celebrity of sorts.

    As a master of disguise, Mesrine was a skilled escape artist and broke out of prison numerous times. He enjoyed provoking the individuals tasked with tracking him down. In a courtroom, he once called the presiding judge "a cretin and an incompetent," while the media portrayed him as an "intellectual gangster." This heroic rebelliousness resulted in Mesrine's perception as "the Robin Hood of the Paris Streets."  

    His career came to a sudden end in November 1979 when he was shot as he and his mistress drove through the outskirts of Paris. French authorities shot Mesrine 16 times, which many of his supporters felt was excessive.

    After his death, a recording turned up that Mesrine had requested his girlfriend play if he died. It said, "Perhaps we'll meet again... maybe in hell... I regret nothing." 

    His story was told in the two-part 2008 movie Mesrine: Killer Instinct.

    • Age: Dec. at 42 (1936-1979)
    • Birthplace: Clichy, France
    232 votes
  • Leon Czolgosz is one of four presidential assassins in US history, alongside John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Charles J. Guiteau - and perhaps the least known of the group.

    When President William McKinley visited Buffalo, NY, in September 1901, Czolgosz shot him out in the open and at close range. One reporter described the event:

    There was an instant of almost complete silence, like the hush that follows a clap of thunder... The president stood stock still, a look of hesitancy, almost of bewilderment, on his face. Then he retreated a step while a pallor began to steal over his features. The multitude seemed only partially aware that something serious had happened.

    McKinley passed nine days later. His assassin would be executed the following month.

    The son of European immigrants, Czolgosz had become an anarchist who, in his own words, "killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people - good working people." He uttered this explanation just before he met his death by electric chair on October 29, 1901.

    During his trial, Czolgosz had been unapologetic for killing McKinley, refused to hire a lawyer, and insisted he'd acted alone. Even after his appointed attorneys attempted to raise considerations of his mental health, Czolgosz seemed willing - and proud - to own his deed. In fact, he made no secret that he saw eliminating the president as his "duty" because "no one man should have so much service and another man should have none."

    • Age: Dec. at 28 (1873-1901)
    • Birthplace: Alpena, MI
    274 votes