What are illegal things people do nowadays to make money?

A few years ago, back in the days when my boyfriend was sleeping on his friend's couch and my parents didn't allow him to spend nights at my house, we would occasionally stay at a hotel in town when we wanted to spend nights together. It was a pretty nice hotel and we always enjoyed staying there. At some point the hotel switched owners and changed names, but the service and the experience remained pretty much the same, so we thought nothing of the switch. We continued getting rooms there from time to time, and for a while there were no problems.

About a month or two after the change, we spent

A few years ago, back in the days when my boyfriend was sleeping on his friend's couch and my parents didn't allow him to spend nights at my house, we would occasionally stay at a hotel in town when we wanted to spend nights together. It was a pretty nice hotel and we always enjoyed staying there. At some point the hotel switched owners and changed names, but the service and the experience remained pretty much the same, so we thought nothing of the switch. We continued getting rooms there from time to time, and for a while there were no problems.

About a month or two after the change, we spent a normal night at the hotel. My boyfriend had to leave earlier than I did in the morning because he had to go to work. I slept in until about 9:30 or 10 AM. I woke up to the sound of someone opening the door with a key card. The door was around the corner from the bed, so I didn't see it open or catch a glimpse of the person who opened it, but I could tell it was wide open because I could clearly hear sounds from the hallway. I called "Hello?" and the door quickly shut. I got up and walked over to the door, flipped the latch so it couldn't be opened again, and checked the peep hole. There was no one in sight. I figured the cleaning staff must have mistakenly entered to start cleaning, not realizing there was someone still in the room.

We stayed there again a few weeks later. We checked in, headed up to the room, hung out for a while, spent some intimate private time together, and then happily dozed off while cuddling and watching television. Again, I woke up to the sound of a key card being inserted into our door, and I figured someone must be mistakenly trying to enter the wrong room. But I jolted upright when I realized that the key had worked and the door had opened. Luckily my boyfriend always makes a habit of locking every possible lock on a door, so the door banged against the metal latch and the person was unable to enter.

I jostled my boyfriend awake and told him someone was trying to come into the room. He jumped out of bed, hurried over to the door and pushed it shut, saying something along the lines of "Someone's in here, you have the wrong room." He looked out the peep hole and saw a random middle aged man who looked like another guest at the hotel. The man walked off, but we were very disturbed that someone else had the key to our room. My boyfriend got fully dressed and went down to the front desk to complain. He told me to flip the latch again after he left, which I did. I had to pee, but I was uncomfortable using the bathroom because I was paranoid that someone would come back and open the door again and I didn't trust the latch to effectively keep them out. Anyway, I decided to use the bathroom as quickly as possible and leave the bathroom door cracked open so I could hear if someone tried to come in again.

Sure enough, right as I was washing my hands, the door to our room opened again and banged against the latch. I rushed to the door, looked out the peep hole to see if it was my boyfriend, and saw the same middle aged man. What creeped me out was that if it was just a mistake and he had been assigned to the wrong room, why was he trying to come back and get back into the room when he knew it was already occupied?

I pushed the door shut as hard as I could and yelled "GO AWAY! Someone's in here!" The man said nothing and wandered off again. My boyfriend returned a few minutes later to find me shaking and panicked. He said they had told him at the front desk that it was just a "mix up," but he decided we should go down and talk to them again seeing as the man had come back a second time. We grabbed our valuables just in case the guy came back a third time and headed down to the front desk to express how angry and uncomfortable we were that some creepy (and seemingly drunk) guy was given a key to our room. They apologized profusely and said they had just straightened out the situation and it wouldn't happen again. We went back up to the room and were on edge for the rest of the night.

At the time, I didn't really connect the second incident to the first incident, because I figured the first time was just a simple mistake made by the cleaning staff. (However, I did find it odd that they hadn't knocked before trying to come in and that they hadn't apologized when they opened the door and realized someone was already in there.) It wasn't until we stayed there again about a month later and had something similar happen (a random person came and opened our door with a key again, though this time they weren't so insistent upon trying to get in when they found that the room was occupied) that we saw a very clear pattern. We went down to the front desk, furious, and we were met with more apologies and promises that this would never happen again. We spent the rest of the night there since it was too late to go anywhere else, but we decided never to stay there again.

The hotel has since changed owners again. After the change, we decided to give it another try. We were talking to the new staff at the front desk while we checked in and we told them about our previous experiences in order to make sure nothing like that happened again. Come to find out, the previous hotel owner had been evading taxes by not logging all the guests who checked in into the hotel's computer system. He was therefore unable to keep track of which rooms were occupied and which weren't (though if he were smart, he could have at least written the room numbers down on a piece of paper).

So to reiterate Jeremy Markeith Thompson's answer, a major illegal way to make money is to find a way to avoid paying taxes on your earnings. Clearly this is not a smart thing to do, especially if you're too dumb to cover your tracks.

The good old mobile dent repair scheme:

  1. Get a nondescript white van.
  2. Camp out in a large parking lot, waiting for someone to show up in a late model car with a few dings and scratches.
  3. Approach the driver of your target vehicle as they exit. Assure them you work for a local body shop and you're doing side jobs for a little cash to take your kids on vacation. Convince them you can repair all dents while they're inside shopping, and you won't even ask for money until it's done because you're such a stand-up guy.
  4. Wait until they leave, and pack the dent in with anything - Bondo, drywall mud, ceme

The good old mobile dent repair scheme:

  1. Get a nondescript white van.
  2. Camp out in a large parking lot, waiting for someone to show up in a late model car with a few dings and scratches.
  3. Approach the driver of your target vehicle as they exit. Assure them you work for a local body shop and you're doing side jobs for a little cash to take your kids on vacation. Convince them you can repair all dents while they're inside shopping, and you won't even ask for money until it's done because you're such a stand-up guy.
  4. Wait until they leave, and pack the dent in with anything - Bondo, drywall mud, cement, Playdoh, who gives a shit? Just make sure it actually sticks to the surface of the car.
  5. Smooth the mess out with a putty knife and spray paint it with the closest color match you can find for under 5 bucks a can. Use two coats because you are, after all, a professional.
  6. Get a can of black PlastiDip or similar spray-on rubber coating and apply it over your "repair" once the spray paint is dry to the touch.
  7. By now the owner is probably walking out. Explain that the Plastidip is a "rubberized protective coating" and can't be peeled off for at least 8 hours without ruining the new paint. It's important that you're long gone by the time this actually happens.
  8. After collecting 1-200 dollars from your customer, disappear. There's a good chance somebody is going to come back and kick your ass if you stick around the same spot too long, though you probably deserve it at this point.


hy is this illegal? Because you and I both know you're not actually going to pay taxes on the profits from this operation.

Sell ice cream.

I found a job selling ice cream back in 2007 over the summer. I had recently left a miserable job. I show up at the ice cream truck company. The owner runs a legitimate mechanic shop with a humongous hidden ice cream freezer inside the shop. This ice cream business is not registered. It does not pay any taxes.

Everyday, I'd use one of the 30 converted US Mail trucks with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. It had a bolted freezer in it with dry ice to keep the ice cream frozen. I made 40% of the money made each day tax-free. At the end of the night, individually, each ice

Sell ice cream.

I found a job selling ice cream back in 2007 over the summer. I had recently left a miserable job. I show up at the ice cream truck company. The owner runs a legitimate mechanic shop with a humongous hidden ice cream freezer inside the shop. This ice cream business is not registered. It does not pay any taxes.

Everyday, I'd use one of the 30 converted US Mail trucks with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. It had a bolted freezer in it with dry ice to keep the ice cream frozen. I made 40% of the money made each day tax-free. At the end of the night, individually, each ice cream salesperson would go into an office. The manager would use a hard currency money counting machine to count the earnings with extra sets of eyes. Then, I'd get my take and leave.

It was the easiest money to make in my life. I'm a people person. The kids would tell me when they received their allowance. I used Google Maps to discover "hidden" neighborhoods and to plan my weekly routes. But I got out due to the seasonal nature of the job, no job benefits and the state government cracking down on the types of people working on ice cream trucks. Allegedly, convicted felons were working on ice cream trucks.

Trick home buyer's into wiring their down payments into a theif's account. This is scary because a bank wire is not reversible and the money sent is gone forever.

Here’s how it goes down.

You’re about to settle on a home. You get an e-mail from your real estate agent or from the title company, requesting funds to be wired to an account for settlement. The e-mail purports a last-minute change in wiring instructions.
You dutifuly wire the money using the new instructions.
Then, the call comes from the title company the day before settlement, asking why you have not sent your funds for settlement.

Trick home buyer's into wiring their down payments into a theif's account. This is scary because a bank wire is not reversible and the money sent is gone forever.

Here’s how it goes down.

You’re about to settle on a home. You get an e-mail from your real estate agent or from the title company, requesting funds to be wired to an account for settlement. The e-mail purports a last-minute change in wiring instructions.
You dutifuly wire the money using the new instructions.
Then, the call comes from the title company the day before settlement, asking why you have not sent your funds for settlement. This is the moment you learn that you have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to a thief.
This scheme is not new. But a recent resurgence of wire fraud in the real estate industry, and the increase in its sophistication, prompted the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and many national title insurance companies to issue warning bulletins to the industry.

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To add another SF Bay Area special to Peter Kerrigan's answer:

Stealing wiring. Thieves creep up to public utilities that are not currently in use, open the devices, and steal the copper wiring out of it and sell it for scrap. Freeway metering lights, which are only powered up during rush hour, seem to be a particular favorite.

Consulting. I know a few people who do this. Writers or artists are selling their work in various ways, so it would not be uncommon to get paid to be a consultant. Perhaps the writer reads the story, the artist provides a critique of art.

When, in fact, somebody is just writing a check for fifty bucks that he borrowed a month or two back. He could pay in cash, but by writing a check with Consulting Fee in the memo box, both parties can effectively use evidence of that check when doing that year's taxes. Always one step ahead of Johnny Law.

Here in the SF Bay area, auto burglaries and stealing the Catalytic converter from vehicles. As these parts are valuable, typically are not stamped with a serial number, this is a low-risk/high reward crime that doesn't require much skill to do.