Do you love to bake dog treats for the beloved pooches of your locality? If yes, do you even know it is completely illegal to do so? Shocking, isn’t it? Yes, there are several illegal side hustles that we don’t even know are illegal.
Any side hustle can be illegal depending on the permissions you need to take before starting the job.
Besides, a particular side hustle can be legal in one country but can be completely illegal in another.
So, we have carefully gone through hundreds of different side hustles loved by people around the globe to understand their legitimacy thoroughly.
But before we uncover all thirty of them, let’s clear your fundamental doubt first!
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Can Under The Table Work Be Legal?
When we first think about illegal side hustles, we mostly think about under-the-table jobs. But, is it so?
First, you need to understand that there are several high-paying under-the-table jobs available worldwide that are completely legit.
And second, most illegal jobs are actually under the table. Now you have become confused, isn’t it?
Understand this thing first; it automatically becomes an illegal income if you earn in cash and don’t report it. And most under-the-table jobs don’t need you to report your income.
So, if you believe that your job may be under the table but is entirely permissible by law, don’t forget to file your income and submit taxes.
If you don’t do it, you can be booked for tax evasion, which is punishable by the law.
30 Illegal Side Hustles To Stay Out Of
Many hustles may look pretty legit, which actually aren’t. And on the other hand, several jobs may sound illicit but is completely permissible by the rule of law.
So, we have picked the illegal side hustles that are prohibited throughout this blue planet.
Although quite thrilling for the new-age kids, hacking is one of the completely illegal side hustles you should always beware of.
There are several ways to get paid to surf the web in a positive manner. But these things get fishy once you indulge in unethical practices.
However, hacking can be good or bad depending on its Whitehat or Blackhat techniques. And there are numerous jobs that you can also get if you really have excellent hacking skills.
A few days ago, Apple reportedly announced a $1 million worth of prize if any hacker could break into any iPhone.
Exotic it may sound, many companies like Google, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs also often follow this strategy.
2. Ponzi Schemes
If you search for illegal side hustles on Reddit, you’ll witness a lot of complaints about various kinds of Ponzi schemes.
The oldest trick in the book, the classic variant of the Ponzi scheme, always claims to guarantee an oversized return.
First initiated by the famous conman, Charles Ponzi, during the 1920s, these schemes still promise more than 50% return in just 45 days or less. Several schemes also claim to give a better return.
If you smell something fishy like an unimaginable return in a short time, you need to stay out of it.
It is also not a good idea to invest in any new schemes until it has a track record of performance to prove their credibility.
3. WFH And Pyramid Schemes
Nothing counts as the best illegal side hustles other than work-from-home opportunities and pyramid schemes.
Even MLM (multilevel marketing) is highly suspicious if you can’t find a credible historical output for a specific MLM company.
There are several WFH companies that pay weekly these days. But 95% of those never ask for any upfront fee and don’t make any unachievable promises.
So, if you find a company that asks for upfront and guarantees to make you rich in no time, beware!
It is better to directly communicate to the existing and the previous users of a scheme or company to be on the safer side.
4. General Scammer
Needless to say, scamming is one of the most illegal side hustles that now has its presence in almost every country on this blue planet.
Let me tell you a shocking fact first; more than 15k victims in the United States alone were scammed for hundreds of millions in the last five years.
You may not even believe that more than 50k citizens of the United States have their identity and security compromised due to various scams and frauds.
And to start with, most of these companies send mail to their target claiming to win prizes or free money.
So, if you just received a mail or a text message claiming you have won an exorbitant amount of money, beware!
5. Dark Web Scammer
Although most of us are not fully known and explore it, the dark web is a serious threat to everyone.
And trust me, it is among the most notorious and illegal side hustles in 2021. From drugs to illegal immigration, you can find various services on the dark web.
And now, dark web scamming mostly revolves around cryptocurrency and bank detail hacks. Most of these dark web hackers look for security loopholes to sneak into the victim’s computer or mobile.
It is not a good idea to pay with cryptocurrencies or credit cards on the dark web. The hackers may get all the secret credentials and can loot all your money digitally.
6. Identity Fraud
If you talk about the most notorious illegal side hustles in the USA, you definitely talk about the infamous identity fraud.
It is where scammers or hackers try to steal your identity and then use it in various ways, from shopping to taking new phone connections.
If any hacker or scammer can successfully spoof your online identity, he can extort money in so many different ways.
They can even take cash out of your bank account or credit card. And then, they can further sell your identity on the dark web.
Although it is extremely risky, identity fraud cases are rapidly rising around the globe with its notorious expansion in the USA.
You may not know, but spamming of any kind is considered among the illegal side hustles that you shouldn’t do.
Many hackers have been using spambots and spam-related malware for more than three decades now.
Spammers mainly target the inbox of a person to make the entry. You’ll receive suspicious mail or a chat request from an unknown person with malicious links.
These links often look pretty close to an original link of a reputed company.
Spammers will have complete or partial access to your inbox once you click on that link or download any suspicious tools or extensions.
Let me first tell you a 2006 story! Former UFC fighter Lee Murray and his team impersonated policemen and raided a Securitas Depot that year.
They first kidnapped the manager, put his family at gunpoint, and then had access to the vaults.
Once they could successfully open it, they took nearly $92 million in real cash. They loaded that cash into multiple trucks and fled away.
Most interestingly, Lee Murray fled to Morocco even after he was proven guilty. He also started living in his million-dollar Moroccan mansion.
And he also flaunted his gold Mercedes before getting sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. Yes, that’s how notorious and illegal robbery is.
9. Home and Shop Burglary
If robbery is for prominent financial institutes and banks, burglary is for shops and houses.
You may not believe it; the United States alone witnesses more than 2.5 million burglary reports each year.
What is even shocking is that only 13% of those reported cases are actually solved. Burglars are way less adventurous than robbers.
They mainly target the time when the house or the shop remains empty. They then use their lock-opening skills to enter the house or the shop.
And they spend very little time taking as many items as they can. They then sell those items on eBay, Craigslist, Yellow Pages, and other auctioning and selling sites.
10. Sports Betting
There are now several ways to get paid to play games online and offline. But sports betting is not what you are looking for, as it is completely illegal in most countries.
And betting via online sports booking agents is also prohibited in several parts of the world.
You may consider it one of the slightly illegal side hustles that you may try if your country’s law allows it.
But don’t forget to check your state’s laws as well to be on the safer side. Besides, you also shouldn’t invest a significant amount of money in sports betting.
You need to understand that it is almost impossible to beat the bookie every time. So, generating a steady income just from sports betting is quite challenging to achieve.
11. Instagram Money Flipping
With more than 1 billion members, Instagram is almost dominating the social media market after FB.
And you must have already known that there are many ways to start a business on Instagram. But if you talk about the most notorious way, it is definitely the money flipping.
The basic blueprint is simple. First, the scammers will open an account on IG and post pictures of lucrative opportunities. They mainly offer 3 to 5 times profit on investment within a year or less.
Many people fall prey to these schemes and contact them on their IG accounts. And in most cases, those people end up paying hefty cash, which they will never get back.
12. Sell Counterfeit Goods
Selling counterfeit items is one of the most illegal side hustles in the UK and most other countries.
Even China now implemented some strict rules to crack those counterfeit rackets. While there are several money-making crafts to sell online, many people rely on counterfeit items from reputed brands.
According to a recent record, counterfeiting is a close to $2 trillion industry that has a global presence.
Companies like Ray-Ban, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and Supreme are the most counterfeited among all the brands.
The Chinatown of New York alone has numerous shops selling counterfeited items. Although police are now taking a hard toll on them, counterfeiting never showed a sign of slowdown.
13. Selling Stolen Goods
Although there are many easy things to make and sell online, many people rely on just stealing.
Often called fences, these people steal goods from houses and shops. And then they either sell it in person or just list those items on online platforms.
As we have already said, eBay and Craigslist are two of the most favorite platforms to sell stolen items.
Besides, they often take contracts to steal a particular item from a specific house or shop.
It is almost impossible to trace the stolen goods once they wipe out all the evidence. Besides, they often use false identities to sell those stolen goods online.
14. Selling Electronic Copies
Selling copies of any electronic items, including CDs and Blu-Rays, are among the money-making illegal side hustles.
You may not know, but you can’t legally reproduce anyone’s intellectual property.
So, it is technically illegal to burn a copy of your favorite game or your favorite music album.
It is even unlawful to distribute those copies for monetary benefits. And in most countries, it is punishable by a hefty fine with imprisonment.
And in the modern age, it is even illegal to unethically share your Netflix account or steam codes with your families for monetary benefits.
You should always use digital properties like non-transferable assets.
15. Credit Card Skimming
Let me tell you what is a skimming machine actually! It is an illegal device that is typically found in the dark web market.
Once anyone attaches the skimming device to an ATM or a card-swiping machine, it is ready to duplicate the cards.
Once you swipe your debit or credit card on a machine attached to a skimming device, it will automatically copy all the details of your cards, including card number, expiry date, CVV, and even PIN.
The hackers then can easily use those credentials to make multiple copies of your credit and debit card. Besides, they can even use those details to purchase anything online.
16. Cannabis Cultivation
Although several states in the USA alone are now fighting for a legalized status of cannabis, the cultivation of marijuana is one of the most notorious and illegal side hustles in most of the world.
And growing it without the proper permission can land you in big trouble.
However, the cannabis industry is constantly booming as more and more people are now coming to this field.
Cultivation of cannabis is not just easy but also yields a better profit than other cash crops.
If you want to indulge in this cultivation business, you should be completely aware of the local as well as country laws. You should also get the correct documents in favor before you actually start.
17. Drug Dealing
Needless to say, drug dealing is one of the most illegal ways to make money fast.
And since the boom of narcotics, drug dealing remains a notorious offense that can attract multiple years of imprisonment with hefty fines.
Let me tell you an exciting story! At the height of his power and (mis)prosperity, Pablo Escobar alone sold $22 billion worth of cocaine around the globe.
And he has several other drug-related businesses that make many more billions.
A recent study found out that a street seller of marijuana typically makes around $1k/week on average. On the other hand, dealers selling hard drugs can make many folds!
18. Produce Illegal Drugs
Production of narcotics and sedatives is as illegal as selling it as a drug dealer.
And in many cases, the production of drugs attracts several times more fines and lengthier imprisonment than peddling those drugs.
But even after having such threats and risks, many people came into the production of illegal drugs, all for a hefty profit.
However, the production of scheduled drugs is permitted if you have the right set of documents and permissions.
On the other hand, drug smuggling through borders is also illegal, besides producing and peddling it.
And if you get caught by the law enforcement department, you may have to spend the rest of your life in prison.
A relatively new term for many of us, embezzling is one of the most illegal side hustles. Let me give you a brief knowledge of how embezzlement works.
You first need the legal authority to access a government or private fund.
If you are a bank manager, a treasurer, a property or asset manager, or a manager of a money-making scheme, you will have access to the fund.
Embezzling is where you use that particular fund for your own benefit.
Although it is not an old-fashioned theft or burglary, it falls under money laundering. And in most countries, it can land you in multiple years of imprisonment with a massive amount of fine.
20. Insider Trading
Inside trading was a popular thing in the 90s.
Although it is less prevalent now, it is still a notorious act that is completely illegal. Insider trading is when you make a profit through the inside data or stats you have of a company or a brand.
Suppose you are working for a company and know about their upcoming investment plan where they are sure to make a huge profit.
And then, you put stakes on that deal through any of your relatives. It is called inside trading.
There are several financial goals examples to become a millionaire these days. Although insider trading can do just that, it is completely illegal in every part of this blue planet.
The oldest profession known to humankind, prostitution or skin business, is one of the most illegal side hustles in most countries in the world.
From lack of jobs to financial downfall, increased prostitution can be from several factors in any country.
However, there are several places on this planet where this ancient trade is absolutely legal.
But yes, you do need to check local and state laws. Besides, you should also not hurt the religious sentiment while indulging in a skin trade.
In most countries, illegal prostitution can land you in jail for a few years. And in many countries, it can also attract a substantial monetary fine besides imprisonment.
Besides prostitution itself, arranging prostitutes for someone (AKA pimping) is also illegal in most of the countries on this blue planet.
It is more of a managerial position where anyone gets active in the trade and earns their commissions.
According to a new report by The Urban Institute, an average pimp in the USA alone can make up to $30k/week.
Astonishing as it may sound, prostitution is a trillion-dollar industry where money flows like fountain water.
Legendary pimp Iceberg Slim once recalled his experience over the last four decades.
He once said that he managed more than 400 prostitutes at once. But yes, you shouldn’t follow the path of the iceberg.
23. Counting Cards
Card counting is an age-old trick for people having brilliant card skills. This particular strategy is mainly used in casinos and poker places where you put money at stake.
The most infamous case of card counting came when Las Vegas banned a group of MIT students along with their math teacher.
A large group of players works as individuals to successfully execute this card counting trick. They communicate between them in secret codes and body language. And by doing that, they can correctly predict the opponent’s hands.
According to a new study, good card counting can make a 1.5% more profit on each hand. So, if anyone can land it correctly, he will easily increase his earnings by $100/hour or more.
24. Resell eBooks
Like reselling hard copies of books and electronic copies of CDs, reselling eBooks is also among the illegal side hustles that you shouldn’t try.
However, there are many legal ways to get paid to read books this year. If you search for any eBook free download, you’ll see a sea of available websites.
But trust me, almost all the websites are illegal, and they operate under a translucent curtain to hide their identity.
An eBook is the intellectual property of the author and the publisher, which is protected by the laws. So, you can definitely land in jail if the law enforcement department can catch you with ample evidence.
25. Selling Homemade Foods
Although it sounds like a fun activity and a relatively harmless thing to do, selling homemade food without the proper approval and licenses is actually illegal in most countries.
So, if you want to make money from the food industry, it is better to go for legit food delivery jobs.
You can definitely start a home bakery or a cloud kitchen. But you need to understand a few factors.
First, you need a trade license to initiate any business in any place around the globe. And then, you need permission from the food and safety department of your country.
You also need to renew your license from time to time as you are not permitted to operate with a lapsed license.
26. Baking Dog Treats
You may not know, but baking dog treats and selling them for profit is one of the unethical ways to make money.
Although it is one of the best jobs working with animals you can try, you definitely need the necessary permission from the respective authority.
Most dog-treat bakers don’t even know how strict the FDA regulation can be. And to abide by the rules and regulations, you need to vest a lot of effort and hard work.
Even after that, you also need a local state license to mass-produce dog treats.
Even after having all the necessary documents, you may still need to renew your licenses from time to time. Besides, you should also clearly label the ingredients in each of your dog treats.
27. Selling Homemade Soaps
Who doesn’t love to have a handmade soap with ecstatic fragrance? We all love handmade soaps and bath bombs.
And there are many people who are really good at making such things. But hold on, this is completely illegal.
Like dog treats, homemade soaps also have strict guidelines for production and distribution imposed by the FDA. And if you are not from the USA, you still have specific rules in your own country.
Besides, you should also have your brand name registered and authenticated before you can actually make and sell handmade soaps.
So, it is better to look for the right guidelines first if you really want to start a soapmaking business.
28. Reselling Individual Items From Multipacks
We all love it when we get a multipack of toothbrushes or shampoo at a much lower price, isn’t it?
And we often sell those extra packs to balance out the spending. But do you have any idea that it is one of the illegal side hustles?
Yes, from candy to talcum powder, anything that comes in a multipack can’t be sold alone. Besides, it is also illegal to sell anything without the outer box and a legit batch number.
Most of the time, multipacks are not allowed to be resell as individual items. If you really want to do it, you must talk to the company itself to know about their acceptable reselling policy.
29. Reselling Tickets
Reselling tickets of any kind is entirely illegal according to the rule of law in most countries.
Although most tickets come with a printed name, many tickets don’t have that space as they mainly deliver generic ones.
Even if you have a generic ticket without any name, it is entirely illegal to resell it for monetary benefit. Besides, you can’t even make another one use your ticket until you have the proper permission.
More and more event organizers are buffing up their security protocols to find any such resellers. And if they catch you, you’ll land in legal trouble.
30. Puppy or Kitten Breeding
We all love goofballs and pooches, don’t you? But, do you know it is one of the illegal side hustles to breed kittens and puppies?
Yes, they are absolutely illicit according to the rule of animal handling and protection laws.
Most US states are now looking to ban and shut down puppy mills to impose a strict rule on over-breeding. They are now also considered to take under animal cruelty.
However, you can become a legal breeder by taking the necessary permission from the state or respective authority. Besides, you should also stay out of overbreeding or forced breeding.
How Do Hackers Make Money Illegally?
We have already discussed that hacking is one of the most notorious and illegal side hustles in the digital world.
However, there are several types of hacking and several ways of making money just from hacking. But in a broad spectrum, you can divide that into four main categories.
Blackhat hacking is the most notorious kind of hacking known to humankind now.
In Whitehat, hackers mainly test penetrations, loopholes, bugs, and errors to help companies to improve their digital products.
But in black hat, they use those security holes for diving deep into the system and making it useful for various reasons.
Blackhat can be anything from bypassing a security gateway to injecting malware into a system.
In most cases, Blackhat hackers steal valuable data from your computer. They can also permanently lock your computer, which you need to re-access by paying them hefty cash.
Spamming is not a typical part of hacking! However, it is pretty annoying, even if it is not lethal for most people.
And several companies and business houses use spamming as their core marketing strategy. They mainly send bulk emails to showcase their product or service.
There are several spam packages available on the dark web and sometimes even on social media. For spambots, hackers usually charge around $200 to $300 per 1 million emails.
And hackers use a special type of spambot that also collects live email IDs of actual people to make a database for future spam as well.
In simple terms, ransomware is when you need to pay a ransom amount of money to the hackers to reopen or re-access your mobile or smartphone.
Typically, the hackers will inject malware into a normal-looking link.
And if you click on that link, malware will automatically get installed on your system, which will temporarily disable all the functionality.
So, you shouldn’t click on any link if you are not confident about it.
Besides, it is also a great option to use an antivirus with a strong firewall that can safeguard you from ransomware.
Even if you are adventurous enough, you should stick to a VPN or an incognito browser before clicking any suspicious links.
iv. Cryptocurrency Fraud
Crypto frauds, especially in Bitcoin and Ethereum, are relatively new kids on the block. However, doing fraud to anyone of any cryptocurrency comes under illegal side hustles.
And in most countries, it is punishable by law. You may land in year-long imprisonment along with a hefty fine if the law enforcement department can catch you for cryptocurrency fraud.
You can find several stock optioneering programs, especially on social media platforms like Twitter.
Most of these programs will claim to deliver a higher return and a low operating rate. But in most cases, these are complete scams.
Is Side Hustling Illegal?
Side hustling is not at all illegal and is completely a legit thing to do. However, certain works like hacking and spamming are entirely illegal to take as a side hustle.
Besides, any side hustle can be unlawful if you don’t file your income and give proper taxes.
And finally, you shouldn’t try anything on the dark web to make your side hustle even more profitable.
What Illegal Things Make The Most Money?
Shocking as it may sound, illegal deforestation and timber cutting is the illegal thing that makes the most money these times.
The illegal timber industry has an operating revenue of nearly 15 billion. Wildlife trade comes in the second spot with a global operating income of close to $10 billion.
But you’ll remain in shock if you know about the illegal drug trade that recently crossed $300 billion in operating revenues.
What Are The Highest Paying Illegal Side Hustles?
Without any doubt, hacking is the highest-paying side hustle if you don’t consider heinous crimes as a hustle.
However, manufacturing illegal drugs and peddling them is the highest paying in the actual crime world, although it can attract colossal fines and life imprisonment if it gets caught.
And on simple terms, any side hustle can be high-paying yet illegal if you don’t file your income and give your taxes.
What Are The Highest Paying Illegal Jobs?
If you talk about the highest-paying side hustles, you talk about the work of Pablo Escobar. Yes, becoming a drug lord in the true sense is one of the highest-paying illegal jobs known to humankind.
Bank robbery and running underground betting centers come in second place, where millions of dollars flow like water.
Con artists and hackers are also next on the line as they also earn pretty good doing notorious and illegal jobs.
Although most illegal side hustles can fetch an unimaginable amount of money, these are extremely risky, and you never ever should try any of them.
We have only concluded this list just to make you aware of the profession. And we don’t want or encourage you to try any of these jobs we have mentioned above.
Profiting of the dark web or creating malware is also as illegal as peddling drugs or manufacturing them. So, you shouldn’t venture into any digital adventure to be on the safer side.
So, that’s all for today, folks! Feel free to drop your suggestions and feedback in the comment box below!
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Hello there, I’m Siva Mahesh, an MBA Finance post-graduate and a Remote Career & Personal Finance blogger for 5+ years. Over the years, my work has been featured on US News, Entrepreneur, MSN, Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates, EverQuote, Legal Zoom, The Simple Dollar, Databox, Business.com, Business News Daily, Venngage, Score.org, and more. My primary mission is to help our readers maximize their earning potential with legitimate online business ideas, side hustles, and passive income ideas we publish on Dreamshala. Currently, more than 100,000 readers from all around the world visit this blog every month and learn new ways to improve their finances.