We think it’s safe to say the majority of people reading this wish they could make money doing nothing. Hell, half of the spam ads on the web are ways you can supposedly “earn $5,670 a week from home” while sitting on your progressively richer and fatter ass. With that sentiment in mind, we wanted to share ten stories of people who managed to not only earn money doing nothing, but get away with it too. For a while anyway.
10. The Sailors Paid from Beyond the Grave
When a sailor in the Royal Navy died a few hundred years ago, there was no such thing as insurance, so a rule was quickly established that would ensure a sailor’s family was taken care of in the event he died at sea. This rule basically meant that if a sailor died, his name would still be registered on board a vessel somewhere in the Navy, so that his widow or family could continue to collect his paycheck from beyond the grave. You can see an example of a widow’s man in the logs of this ship if you’re interested.
As an added incentive, this scheme wasn’t in place on-board Merchant Navy ships, meaning the only way for widows to be sure they wouldn’t be left penniless was for their husbands to join the Royal Navy instead. We don’t know how many arguments this caused, but we’ll guess at least a few.
The tradition, which was set in motion in 1760 by an official act of Parliament, stated that for every hundred men in the Royal Navy, a single wage would be set aside for a “poor officers’ widow.” Though popular and arguably really useful for dead people, the act was abolished by 1823.
9. The Police Officers Who Took Extra Shifts That They Never Worked
We always assumed the Fuzz were paid quite well, but seeing as this entry is about police officers who took extra jobs just to make ends meet, we aren’t so sure any more. Then again, none of the police officers who took extra jobs in Elizabeth, New Jersey ever bothered turning up for work, so screw them.
To clarify, in October of 2013, it was revealed that a number of Elizabeth police officers took on extra shifts with the New Jersey housing authority. Rather than do the arguably much-easier job that didn’t involve being shot at, a number of police officers (including a sergeant) simply never turned up. They then had confidential informants sign time sheets to say they’d actually been there all along.
It wasn’t until people working for the housing authority checked CCTV records that they realized none of the officers had ever turned up for work, and were being paid for jobs they’d never done. Wow, a policeman being caught out by CCTV doing something illegal — that never happens.
8. The Gangster Who Held Down Dozens of Jobs While Working None of Them
In his prime, James “Whitey” Bulger was a man you didn’t mess with. He was a notorious gangster prone to fits of violence with a dozen burly men under his command. If you saw Whitey, you steered clear and hoped to God he didn’t decide to practice his punching on the back of your head.
It’s reported that, along with his criminal earnings, Whitey also held down a number of legitimate jobs throughout the years. Well, kind of — he was paid for them despite never turning up for work, nor was he ever punished for not turning up for work. If you’d like to know why, see above.
For example, bar owner Kevin O’Neil was working a late shift one night when Whitey walked in and calmly asked the kindly barkeep for a job. Realizing he wasn’t in the mood for cement shoes and a glass bottle enema, O’Neil agreed and quickly put Whitey on the company payroll. If you haven’t guessed it already, Whitey wasn’t exactly the kind of man to roll up his sleeves and pitch in. In fact, in the several years he “worked” for O’Neil, Whitey never actually turned up for work. This didn’t stop O’Neil from paying him a weekly wage out of pure fear.
Whitey supposedly did this with a number of businesses as a way of laundering all of his ill-gotten gains. We’re assuming the tax office took so long to catch on because Whitey himself probably held like eight jobs there.
7. The Road Machinists Who Did Nothing 22% of the Time
If you counted up all of the time you spend not working in a given day, we’ll guess it would add up to a significant chunk of your time. However, it’s unfair to expect someone to work non-stop for the entire duration of their shift without rest, unless you’re in China. Apparently a group of road repair workers agreed with this sentiment and, to embrace the spirit of American capitalism, spent a fifth of their time at work doing jack nothing.
As noted here, in early 2013, a group of five Metro-North road machinists were found to have spent up to 22% of their workdays doing literally nothing. When they weren’t doing nothing, they’d pass the time by going home, running errands, and eating Burger King. When that was too much effort, they’d sit perfectly still in their trucks all day, no doubt while wearing a Burger King crown and a smile a mile wide.
Even more amazing is that the workers had the balls to claim overtime for all of the work they weren’t doing. When they couldn’t think of a reason to claim overtime, the workers would reportedly just make up random tasks they’d done and ask to be paid for them. By far the most successful of the bunch was one Scott Newman, who managed to rake in $87,000 in a single year (17,000 of it being overtime.) Which, if we’re honest, is kind of brilliant in a “we want to punch those people forever” kind of way.
6. The British Politicians Who Had the Public Pay for Their Stuff
When you’re a British MP, you’re entitled to have a portion of the expenses you accrue in your official duties paid for out of the public coffers. For some reason, some politicians saw this as a license to print money, because in 2009 it was revealed that dozens of MPs were milking the system so badly PETA tried to step in.
The so-called “parliamentary expenses scandal” was so major that even bloody Wikipedia ended up covering it, and the list of things MPs tried claiming for is so absurd it reads like the Christmas list of a spoiled child with ADHD.
Some MPs went the simple-yet-effective “the public can pay my rent even though I’m rich already” route, and used their expenses to buy or pay rent on second homes they never used. Other used them to pay family members to work for them in jobs so simple they could have been done by a dog trained with cubes of cheese. Others well and truly went for it, claiming everything they could think of: food, travel, holidays — you name it, an MP probably claimed for it.
Perhaps the single greatest example is that of the MP Frank Cook who, along with £150,000 in various expenses he could have easily afforded on his generous MP salary, also tried (and luckily failed) to claim back £5 he’d donated to charity. The British government then cancelled out that rare bit of intellect on their part by approving another MP’s expense claim to have his moat cleaned. You know, to help him better serve the British public.
News flash: if a guy owns a moat, he likely doesn’t need help paying to clean it.
5. The Canadian Senator’s Friend Who Earned $65,000 by Doing Squat
Since we can’t let the Brits have all the fun, we’ll move on to the story of Ottawa Senator Mike Duffy, who managed to have the Canadian Senate pay a friend of his $65,000 for, as far as anyone can tell, no reason at all.
Like with the British MPs above, Duffy was supposedly fiddling his expenses and, when curious journalists got their grubby hands on them, they uncovered a rather odd charge Duffy had made to the Senate. Over the course of four years, he’d billed them 65 grand for, and we quote, “little or no apparent work.”
If you’re wondering if this is just our word against the word of a totally trustworthy, Canadian bacon-filled Senator, when the police interviewed Duffy’s friend, Gerald Donohue, he himself admitted to doing “no tangible work” in the four years he’d been hired. We can’t really blame him for not coming forward though, because if someone offered us that much money to sit still, we’d take it.
Using a little math, doing nothing earned Donohue $16,250 a year, though we’re guessing he could have earned a little more if he had asked Duffy for overtime.
4. The Mafia Members Who Were Paid for 24-Hour Work Days
Never let it be said that the Mafia aren’t brazen or don’t pay well, because holy crap are both of those things true. According to the New York Post, friends of the various crime families in New York were able to score jobs that paid in excess of $400,000 a year.
How did they earn that much? Simple: they were paid for working 24 hours a day. For example, Ralph Gigante, nephew of crime pimp Vincent Gigante, managed to secure a job as a union representative for an airport terminal. His job paid him for any hours that people he represented worked at a 24-hour terminal, effectively giving him a near-endless amount of income and probably a reference so glowing it could be seen from space.
Other people worked as time keepers for various ports and ship yards around New York which, like Gigante’s job, paid based not on how many hours the person worked, but on how many hours the people below them worked. This means they earned money for 24-hour work days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Legally.
Unlike the other people on this list, none of the people in these jobs have been punished since nothing they’re doing is technically illegal. As long as they pay their taxes and keep their noses clean, no one can stop them earning half a million dollars a year by sitting on their ass.
3. The Truck Drivers Hired Even Though They Never Drove Anywhere
The hired truck program was a good idea on paper. The city of Chicago would pay truck owners a cushy $50 an hour for the use of their truck for various city duties, giving people of the city a job and saving Chicago itself money on not having to buy or maintain expensive and smelly dump trucks.
It quickly became clear though, that no one had any intention of doing any work. The scheme was rotten to the core almost from day one — higher-ups took bribes from people who wanted their trucks to be eligible, and ties to the mob were present at every level.
The scheme started to crumble down when reporter Tim Novak allegedly saw a truck parked on his street with a sign in the window saying it was being used for official city business. Over the course of several days, Novak never once saw the truck move, with the exception of when its drivers went to McDonald’s. In the time it had been sitting idle, its occupants had earned hundreds of dollars in taxpayer money.
Over the course of several months, evidence of mass corruption was found, including evidence that the mayor of Chicago himself, Richard Daley, had been taking bribes in the form of donations to his campaign. Of course, he was quickly voted out by the public after the scandal broke, and by that we mean he went on to serve for another 5 years.
But hey, let’s not forget why we’re here: to remember the guys who sat in a truck for 10 hours a day, ate McDonald’s, and then went home and got paid $50 an hour from the city for doing so. They were truly living the dream.
2. The Janitors Who Earned Half a Million Dollars “Working” Three Jobs
If we asked you to list a number of high paying jobs, “school janitor” would likely be so far down on the list you’d have to ask Satan to read it out loud for you. Normally, you’d be right; janitors don’t earn that much money, unless they do the work of three janitors at once. Perhaps while holding three brooms.
Which is exactly what James Coppola, Michael Cunningham, and Trifon Radef did. All three men worked their regular jobs while cashing checks for jobs they never turned up for in other schools across the state of New York. Coppola was arguably the ballsiest of the three, claiming that he worked at three schools in New York between 2007 and 2010.
All in all, the three men scammed the education department out of around half a million dollars. Which, anyway you look at it, is way more than three men who mop floors and poop in the teacher’s lounge fridge when no is around should ever be paid.
1. The Man Who Outsourced His Own Job to China
You probably heard about this story during your time across the Web, but we couldn’t not include it as our number one entry because holy crap is this fantastic. Besides, most sources miss out the best part: the guy doing it was outsourcing multiple jobs.
The now-former software developer for Verizon, known only as “Bob,” reportedly spent $50,000 a year outsourcing several of his jobs to a Chinese company in Shenyang. This left him plenty of time for his real job: total legend. Since the guy still had to physically drag his ass to work every day, he spent literally all of his work time dicking around on the Internet. In other words, he sacrificed just a fraction of his already-immense salary (Bob reportedly earned in excess of several hundred thousand dollars a year) to spend all day being paid to do exactly what you’re doing right now for free.
We’re starting to suspect the only reason they didn’t give out Bob’s real name is because if they did, we’d all petition to have his face put on money.