Committing large-scale crimes should, rightfully, be a game
strictly for adults. But as we’ve seen time and again, kids
are capable of some pretty incredible things.
I’m not encouraging children to commit crimes, or
applauding the terrible deeds committed by these kids. I’m
just saying I’m kind of impressed.
#5. 16-Year-Old Art Thief Gets Rich Hustling the Art World……..
When you think of the type of man who’s able to steal
hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of art, your mind
can’t help but Hollywoodize him. You tend to picture a
sophisticated thief, very Pierce Brosnan-like in the looks
department, with all the high-tech equipment his bored
playboy lifestyle can afford him. The type of guy who can
sneak past an elaborate laser-based security system without
wrinkling his suit. But life doesn’t always imitate art, as
proven by the strange case of 16-year-old Laurence McCall.
Like some kind of supernerd, McCall enjoyed skipping school
in favor of hanging out at museums, enthralled by the
artwork he was able to admire for hours on end each day. In
fact, he was such a big fan of paintings that one day he
decided he’d steal one for himself. And then another. And
then another. All told, he took more than 20 paintings, worth
well over $300,000. He was able to do this with the type of
elaborate plan that’s normally only reserved for garden-
variety shoplifters: He simply took the paintings off the wall
and gently slid them out a window. Seriously.
Hey, say what you will about the kid’s lack of originality —
he more than made up for it in balls-out not-giving-a-shit.
Now that McCall had all that art, he needed a way to profit
from it — it’s not like a teenager can waltz into a pawn shop
with a rare painting without prompting a call to the cops. So
instead, this teenager casually telephoned New York City
auction house Sotheby’s and asked if they would auction the
paintings for him. Because asking questions is something that
only the unsophisticated partake in, Sotheby’s agreed with no
With his profits, McCall started living the ’70s pimp life. At
16, he had a luxury apartment in Philly, bought himself a
green Jaguar and decked himself out in fine jewels.
It took three years, but at age 19, McCall finally slipped up
and got caught by the FBI. Despite leaving a paper trail
long enough to circle the globe, nobody was actually able to
prove that he stole the paintings. However, the government
did nail him on things like interstate transport of stolen goods
and mail fraud, and sentenced him to 15 years in the
slammer … of which he only served three. His response to
being in jail? He freaking loved it! He said, “There were
more laughs inside than out.” Good thing he enjoyed that,
because he’s still paying for those paintings today, over 20
years later, getting his salary garnished by the IRS.
#4. A 15-Year-Old Stock Market Swindler Fights the Law and wins…….
If there’s one thing everybody knows about the stock market,
it’s that nobody really knows anything about the stock
market. For the most part, people looking to test the investing
waters tend to put their faith in whichever talking head kind of
sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Jim
Kramer doesn’t get paid the big bucks because he knows more
than anyone else; he’s just really great at making random
guesses sound like stone-cold facts. One enterprising 15-year-
old, Jonathan Lebed, realized this at an age when most
people are still trying to figure out how to save up enough
cash to buy a piece of shit car.
Lebed managed to manipulate the stock market and almost
became a millionaire by doing nothing more than trolling the
Internet and pretending he knew what he was talking about.
With his parents’ blessing, Lebed began working with stocks at
the age of 13. But, rather than studying hard enough to give
any sort of sound advice, he set up hundreds of fake accounts
on sites like Yahoo! Finance and E*Trade and plastered
those sites’ message boards with tips about what new stocks to
The strategy was pretty simple: Lebed would buy otherwise
worthless stocks at ridiculously low prices, post his spam
messages talking up those stocks and sit back and wait for
people to take his advice. And they did, because since when
has anyone ever lied on the Internet for personal gain?
After hundreds of Internet idiots snapped up his worthless
stock, the price would shoot up, and of course Lebed then
quickly sold his shares for an insane profit. For example,
Lebed invested in Firetector, buying shares at $2.45 each.
Then he went online and posted messages stating that the
shares would soon rise to $20. People blindly listened to the
random Internet stranger, and Lebed cashed out a profit of
$19,000. It’s good work if you can get it (and get away with
This was a strategy called the “pump and dump,” which is
almost certainly also the name of a sex act. Over the course of
just five months, Lebed managed to collect $800,000 using
this simple trick. The SEC soon got wind of it, and at 15 years
old, Jonathan Lebed became the youngest person to face
charges of stock market fraud. When his parents found out,
they were … oddly impressed.
Rather than making their young stock market swindler turn
over his ill-gotten gains, the Lebeds fought back. According to
Jonathan’s father, who was irrationally angry at the SEC for
having the gall to question his child, his son “earned it.” He
went on to say, “He did a lot of work. He didn’t sit behind a
garage smoking pot, or stealing wheels off a car.” Because
everyone knows that stealing wheels is easy work. Blatantly
lying on the Internet for financial gain is far more creative and labor intensive.
Shockingly, their arguments worked. The SEC settled with
Jonathan Lebed in a civil suit, ordering him to pay back
$285,000, leaving over $500,000 still in the pocket of the
young con man. Let this be a lesson, kids. Sometimes, crime
#3. A 14-Year-Old Blind Kid Makes SWAT Teams Do His
Matthew Weigman was born legally blind, which, as you
know from Daredevil, meant he developed superhuman
hearing to compensate. If you don’t see how a sightless
childhood could be turned into a life of sophisticated crime,
you’re apparently not aware of phone hacking.
At around age 11, Matthew fell in with a shady bunch known
as ” phreakers.” Basically, a phreaker is a person who probes
and scans telephone networks looking for weaknesses to
exploit. Those lines operate on tones, and mastering them
could get you all kinds of access (we once told you about a
guy who got free long distance by blowing into his phone with
a whistle he got out of a cereal box ). Among the phreakers,
Matthew gained the nickname that would eventually describe him so well — Lil’ Hacker.
Thanks to his uncanny hearing, Weigman was able to
memorize phone numbers just by listening to the dial tones.
He could also perfectly mimic people’s voices, which allowed
him to gather personal data from companies like Verizon and
AT&T by copying the voices of supervisors.
Eventually, Weigman took his skills into criminal territory by
accessing supervisor lines at Sprint so he could eavesdrop on
customer service calls and steal credit card numbers. He
would then share those stolen credit card numbers with all of
his phreaker friends, who used them to buy computers and
such. This might all sound fairly harmless, but Matthew
upped the ante by using his unique telephone skills for
something called “swatting.” Basically, that means he
would fake calls to the police in order to have SWAT teams converge on the homes of his enemies. Hilarious!
And it was as simple as using his phone hacking skills to
make the call look like it was coming from the home of the
person he was targeting. Then he would make wild claims
about hostage situations that would draw the vans full of
guys in black suits with machine guns. If that actually does
sound kind of like a funny prank to play on a buddy, keep in
mind that one of his victims was the father of a girl he knew
who was targeted because she refused to have sex with him.
Through a combination of stealing information, faking police
calls and sheer arrogance, the 14-year-old Weigman found
himself on the business end of a joint venture between Verizon
and the FBI aimed at taking him down. There was only one
hitch, though; they had to wait until he turned 18 if they really
wanted to dish out some severe justice. Matthew caught wind
of the investigation and was even told that he’d be off the hook
if he just stopped before becoming an adult.
But what fun would that be? No, Matthew Weigman shifted
his dickery into high gear. He and some of his phreaker
comrades began harassing the Verizon investigator by
planting false evidence in an attempt to get him fired. It
didn’t work, of course, and the blind telephone bully was
finally arrested. He was sentenced to 135 months in prison,
which our science and research department assures us amounts
to just over 11 years.
#2. Two Teenage Girls Rob a Bank and Get Away Clean……
When we pictured our art thief earlier, we immediately
imagined a suave, sophisticated type. Well, when picturing
bank robbers, we tend to imagine something much more brutal
and direct. Shotguns fired into the ceiling, ski masks, shouted
commands to get down before you get your head blown off.
And if they’re the type to actually get away with it, they have
to be pros. They have to know the security and have a
getaway plan. Since it’s a federal offense and all, they
probably have to spend a week or 50 in Mexico to avoid the
FBI manhunt. So, with all these deterrents, it should be
utterly impossible for the average person, let alone two kids of
junior high school age, to just waltz into a bank and rob it. Right?
Apparently not. Two Ohio kids were able to pull off a totally
successful bank robbery, taking home an undisclosed
(meaning too embarrassingly huge to reveal) amount of cash.
We’d point out that the brazen act was even more shocking in
light of the fact that the teens were girls, but that would be
sexist. Instead, we’ll just let their ages, estimated to be 14 and
12, stand as the fact that leaves us in awe.
Even more surprising, there wasn’t even any violence
involved. The 14-year-old just calmly walked up to the bank
teller and, with the same nonchalance with which other girls
her age pass notes in class asking whether that bitch Janie is
coming to Stacey’s sleepover, handed the cashier a note
demanding money. The robber was wearing a tightly
wrapped hoodie, thus rendering the surveillance footage of the
robbery completely useless.
Meanwhile, the 12-year-old stood outside, serving as a lookout
for both the cops and Mr. Sweeney, who was probably
looking for the girls after they skipped homeroom. The teller,
who was apparently trained to classify any robber as a
serious threat, even if she was unironically wearing glitter lip
balm, handed over the cash. The two girls fled, and the teller
immediately called the cops.
This is the part in most movies where the robbers mess up and
get caught by the genius policeman who was on to them from
the start. But not these girls. Despite the fact that the FBI did
everything in their power to catch them, from releasing a
police dog to deploying freaking helicopters, the girls got
away scot-free, and remain at large and unidentified to this
day. Not even the fact that some of the bills were marked
seems to have worked. The girls either had someone in their
crime syndicate identify those bills for them or MacGyvered a
contraption that detected them using nothing but their Hello
Kitty markers and Bunsen burners from the older kids’ science lab.
OK, maybe any kid can get lucky once. But how about
several hundred times? Well …
#1. A Lone Teenager Causes a 500 Percent Increase in Crime…..
Residents of Essex, England, were victims of a six-year crime
wave that, while thankfully absent of disemboweled hookers,
cost residents over 1 million pounds’ worth of goods that were
stolen from hundreds of homes. The burglaries were so
frequent and of such a high volume that they led to a 500
percent increase in the crime statistics in Chelmsford alone.
So, did the Mafia move into town? Did some kind of
newfangled and highly addictive drug hit the streets of Essex,
causing residents to steal whatever wasn’t nailed down so they
could pay their dealer? Nope. That 500 percent increase in
crime was the work of just one incredibly prolific teenager
named Bradley Wernham.
Bradley started his crime spree at the age of 12, breaking into
houses and pubs. He also hit a few churches, just in case
stealing alone wasn’t enough to write himself a one-way ticket
to hell. Within a few years, he moved on to things like luxury
automobiles, stealing two Mercedes vehicles, an Audi and a
Porsche. When he was finally apprehended, Wernham was
charged with 17 counts of burglary. Not wanting to appear to
be some kind of amateur, he asked that an additional 645
crimes be taken into account as well. If you’re keeping score
at home, that’s over 660 burglaries and thefts that he
committed before finally getting caught.
Unsurprisingly, it was Wernham’s staggering crime stats that
eventually got him arrested, but probably not in the way you
think. At one point during his one-man crime extravaganza,
the wily thief moved to a new city. A few short months after
his arrival, crime statistics in his new hometown shot up to
record levels as well. Officials eventually put two and two
together and charged Wernham with being some kind of super-
efficient crime-committing machine.
Naturally, at trial, the judge threw the book at him. Ha, just
joking! For his crimes, Bradley Wernham was given 150
hours of community service and was forced to live rent-free in
a government-provided apartment. He was also sent to
college on the taxpayers’ dime. For the love of God, have
mercy on the poor kid, England!
Shockingly, this punishment did nothing to stop Bradley
Wernham’s criminal ways. A few months after being
sentenced to a life of leisure, he was arrested for burglary once
again. This time, there would be no lenient sentencing.
Bradley Wernham was sentenced to five years in prison.
He remains locked up to this day. Ha, again, just joking.
He was released after serving only 18 months of his five-year
sentence. This raises an obvious question: Why doesn’t every
criminal just move to England?