7. Bernie Ebbers
Bernie Ebbers, born August 27, 1941, is a Canadian-born businessman who co-founded the telecommunications company WorldCom. His company was buckling under gigantic debt so he thought the best way to dig himself out of his hole was to orchestrate an $11 billion fraud scheme.
WorldCom made too many rapid acquisitions as stepping-stones to the top, becoming the second largest telecommunications company in the nation, but at the cost of putting his company in the red. He cornered himself, so decided to admit improperly reporting a staggering $3.4 billion. This led the courts to open a criminal investigation, leading to the discovery WolrdCom had loaned $400 million to Ebbers. If you’re going to write a bogus cheque, don’t cash it in your name. Soon the empire crumbled, the stock plummeted and Ebbers went on trial.
Security fraud, conspiracy and seven counts of filing false reports with regulators earned him a quarter of a century in the slammer. Ebber’s defence of the whole thing? “I didn’t know what was going on”. He is currently serving time at Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution, Louisiana.