Top 10 Most Famous Modern Day Outlaws

Script written by Nick Roffey.

There have been criminals that got away with their crimes for a while. Whether it’s someone as famous as whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a group like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or a con man like Frank Abagnale, these criminals evaded the law. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most famous modern day outlaws.

Special thanks to our user mattwatchmojo for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Modern%20Day%20Outlaws

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Script written by Nick Roffey.

Top 10 Modern-Day Outlaws


They defied the law, and earned fame – or infamy – in the process. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 modern outlaws.

For this list, we’re looking at those famous criminals who have broken the law in the last half century – regardless of whether they’re considered heroes or villains. Extra points go to those who remained at large as fugitives for an extended period of time.

#10: Pink Panthers

This large group of international jewel thieves from Eastern Europe earned their moniker back in 1993. Taking inspiration from the movie “The Return of the Pink Panther,” they hid a stolen diamond in a jar of face-cream. Since then, they’ve achieved worldwide fame for intricate and theatrical heists, robbing 120 stores in 20 countries and getting away with an estimated $500 million in loot. With a flair for the flamboyant, the group’s more notorious feats include crashing cars through glass storefronts and making spectacular getaways by speedboat. Interpol is hot on their heels: the only problem is they escape prison almost as quickly as they can be locked up.

#9: Enric Duran

Also known as “the Robin Hood of the Banks,” Duran is a Catalan anti-capitalist who, between 2005 and 2008, took out half a million euros worth of loans from numerous banks and gave the money to anti-capitalist movements. After declaring he had robbed “those who rob us the most,” he was arrested in 2011. Soon after, he was released on bail and fled Spain. In the eyes of the activist and his admirers, defrauding the banks was an act of civil disobedience against an exploitative financial system. But for the banks, it was theft – plain and simple. While on the run, he has continued to work with fellow anti-capitalists to promote alternative cooperative economic models.

#8: Phoolan Devi

As a young girl, Phoolan ran away from her abusive husband and joined a group of bandits. When the leader tried to rape her, Vikram Mallah, his second-in-command, killed him and took over. Phoolan and Vikram fell in love, but after Vikram was killed, Phoolan was locked up and gang-raped. Somehow, she escaped to form her own gang, and in 1981 orchestrated the murder of 22 men in the village where she’d been held. Evading capture and robbing from the rich, she caught the public’s imagination as “Bandit Queen.” To boot, despite serving 11 years in prison, she went on to serve in Parliament. An iconic figure, her career was cut short when she was assassinated in 2001.

#7: Chelsea Manning

In 2010, the US soldier then known as Bradley Manning shared diplomatic and military documents and videos with WikiLeaks. The material highlighted civilian casualties during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, also exposing government corruption in the Middle East. This has been called a partial catalyst for the Arab Spring. After the disclosure, Manning felt conflicted and confessed to a stranger online, leading to her arrest, charged with violations of the Espionage Act. Manning, a transgender woman, has attempted suicide twice while serving in a men’s prison. As one of his last acts as President, Barack Obama commuted her sentence from a staggering 35 years to 7; moving her release date up to May 17th, 2017.

#6: Julian Assange

He’s been described as a freedom fighter, an egomaniac, and public enemy number one. As the founder of WikiLeaks, an organization notorious for publishing sensitive political and military material, Assange is rather controversial. After Wikileaks published the “Collateral Murder” video and the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, he became a marked man. While under investigation, Assange nonetheless continued to publish material, including the DNC and Podesta emails, and documents exposing the CIA’s hacking capabilities. His uncompromising line on freedom of information has attracted both praise and accusations of irresponsibility. Wanted for questioning over sexual assault charges in Sweden, but allegedly fearing extradition to the US, he has been hiding in London’s Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

#5: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Founded by former Greenpeace member Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd is a non-profit environmental organization that protects marine life through aggressive direct action. Their flag is a skull with a shepherd’s crook and trident, a variation on the classic Jolly Roger flown by pirates. With their fleet of nine ships, Sea Shepherd attacks and sabotages Japanese whaling vessels and other groups involved in illegal fishing and hunting activities. Often accused of being “eco-pirates,” they’re also condemned by Greenpeace, as well as the Australian and New Zealand governments. Sea Shepherd maintains it is enforcing laws at sea in defence of the environment.

#4: Frank Abagnale

The best outlaws often start out young. In the 1960s, professional imposter Frank Abagnale defrauded banks, and from the ages of 15 to 21, also impersonated airline pilots. The methods behind his audacious crimes were sometimes surprisingly simple. To impersonate a pilot, he created fake identification using the decal sheet on a model plane. Pan Am estimates that he flew for free over a million miles this way. Abagnale also posed as a chief resident pediatrician in a hospital for almost a full year. After capture, he escaped twice, once by pretending to be an undercover prison inspector. He is now a successful security consultant who advises the FBI.

#3: Anonymous

Anonymous is a wild card; some are in it for the lulz, some for political change. This online, decentralized community of hacktivists originated on the imageboard 4chan, and has been called both trolls and digital Robin Hoods. They’re responsible for several well-publicized campaigns, typically using denial-of-service attacks and doxing, or leaking private information. One of their earliest movements was Project Chanology, taking aim at the Church of Scientology’s attempts at Internet censorship. Other targets have included PayPal and various child and revenge porn sites. The truth is that Anonymous really are, as they call themselves, “Legion” – a diverse collective with no central leadership or authority, whose actions are often unpredictable.

#2: Edward Snowden

He’s a patriot to some and a traitor to others. Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013. He revealed global surveillance programs that included access to personal email, phone records and even webcams. Unsurprisingly, Snowden’s disclosures sparked public outrage. Probably the creepiest revelation was that, with the NSA’s help, the British government was collecting random screenshots of people on webcams – often while they were naked. In recent years, Snowden has been living under asylum in Russia. What’s more, he’s been the subject of several documentaries, an Oliver Stone film, and even has a made-to-order action figure in his likeness.

#1: Osama bin Laden

Among outlaws, there are heroes and there are villains. Born the son of a Saudi Arabian billionaire, bin Laden abandoned a conventional career in the shadow of his father to join the Afghan resistance against the Soviets. He was outraged by US policies in the Middle East, particularly the alleged support for Israel during its invasion of Southern Lebanon. He founded the radical jihadist group al-Qaeda and launched a series of attacks on American targets around the world, culminating in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Banished from Saudi Arabia and later Sudan, he moved from hideout to hideout. In 2011, US forces tracked and killed bin Laden in Pakistan – ending a decade-long manhunt.
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