6 entrepreneurs who shook off criminal records to dominate the business world

3. Kevin Mitnick

Making it onto the FBI’s Most Wanted list is quite an accomplishment – and that’s exactly what happened to Kevin Mitnick after a series of cyber crimes.

Remarkably, however, he has turned his life around to become a security consultant to firms in the Fortune 500 and governments across the globe.

It was aged 16 in 1979 when Mitnick made his first foray into cheating the system when he found a way to travel across his native city of Los Angeles on the bus network.

The same year he went on to hack into a computer network and stole software, which resulted in his imprisonment for a year in 1988 and then supervised release, but during the latter he hacked once again and went on the run as a fugitive for two and a half years.

In 1995, the FBI finally caught up with the outlaw and in 1999 he was sentenced to five years in prison for his fraudulent hacking activities involving 40 organisations, but he had developed a following of fans over this period of incarceration.

Today, Mitnick can be found running Mitnick Security alongside his “Global Ghost Team”. The firm boasts a 100 per cent success rate of breaking into any system they’re paid to infiltrate. On the other side, the security chief also teaches consumers how to protect their information from harm.


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4. Mark Wahlberg

It could have all gone so wrong for Boston boy Mark Wahlberg, who today is worth around $225m while his 2015 earnings reached $32m.

Aged 14, Wahlberg – the youngest of nine children – started to skip school in favour of the streets where he would steal and sell drugs. At one stage he found himself caught in a lawsuit accusing him of hurling racial slurs and rocks at other youths.

Things escalated wildly when he was jailed at 16 for the “savage beating” of a Vietnamese man who was left blind, in what was believed to be a racially motivated assault.

The 45 days he spent in prison gave him clarity and he started to focus by working out and now claims to be a devout Irish Catholic, calling religion “the most important part of my life”.

Following his older brother into the music world gave Wahlberg to shake off his past, while his “charisma” led him into the world of film.

Showcasing entrepreneurial spirit, the actor started to produced Entourage, which has achieved great success, as has Boardwalk Empire – another of his productions.

More recently, Wahlberg got into the food industry with his family. The initial Wahlburgers venue opened in Boston in 2011 and commenting on the company’s growth this year, he said: “I’m the driving force behind the business aspect of it, and I don’t think they’re used to their little brother telling them, ‘Well, this is how we’ve got to do things.’ But we’re in a good place now.”

“We have almost 70 restaurants under contract right now, with various franchisees and deals in different places. I think we will have nine or 10 open by the end of the year in places like Fenway Park in Boston and airports in Philly and New York. 

“We’re opening in Coney Island, Long Island, the D.C. area, Las Vegas — and we’re looking for locations in L.A. We also just made a deal in the Middle East for 20 restaurants.”

Continue reading on the next page to discover the MBE-awarded young entrepreneur who got arrested at school for a furniture-based attack, and the man who had his conning exploits transformed into a Hollywood film.

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