Forensic accounting, Al Capone and Lindbergh kidnapping case

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble”

-Al Capone

From 1920 to 1933, prohibition was declared in the United States resulting in a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.

This in turn lead to bootlegging and soon bootlegging became an industry. One person who benefitted from prohibition was gangster called Al Capone. He earned money through bootlegging; he soon “diversified” into other areas like gambling, running prostitution rackets etc.

“Some call it bootlegging. Some call it racketeering. I call it a business.”

-Al Capone

Though Al Capone loved American capitalism, he did not believe in competition, so he eliminated his rivals. He was arrested for killing his rivals, but charges could not be proved. Similarly police could not prove other charges related to bootlegging etc. against him. So inspite of committing serious crimes Al Capone remained free bird.

“I’ve been accused of every death except the casualty list of the World War.”

-Al Capone

boot legging

Frank Wilson was accountant working with Internal Revenue Services. He decided make use of forensic accounting to get Al Capone arrested.

In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled that illegally earned income was subject to income tax.


Frank investigated illegal income of Al Capone and soon found documents to show that Al Capone had not paid income tax on his illegal income worth millions. So finally Al Capone was arrested on grounds of not paying income tax. Evidences given by Frank resulted in Al Capone getting imprisonment term for 11 years.

They can’t collect legal taxes from illegal money.”

-Al Capone


In 1932, a 20 months old child Charles Lindbergh Junior, son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and ransom was demanded by kidnapper for his release. Charles agreed to pay ransom of $ 70000.

Frank Wilson was involved in this case. He advised Charles to package ransom in a wooden box that was custom-made so that it could be identified. The ransom money itself was made up with a number of gold certificates that were to be withdrawn from circulation in the near future. It was hoped that anyone passing large amounts of gold notes would draw attention to himself and help aid in identifying the abductors. Also, while the bills themselves were not marked, the serial number of each bill was recorded. Inspite paying ransom, Charles could not get his child, later the child was found murdered.


A person called Bruno Richard Hauptmann paid petrol pump attendant $10 in form of gold certificate. The attendant got suspicious; he noted licence plate number of car and called police. Police arrested Hauptmann, and found wooden box with gold certificates which were paid as ransom in his house.

Hauptmann was tried for kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Junior and executed using electric chair.


Hauptmann never confessed his crime. He said that money belonged to his friend and he was just using it.

“I am absolutely innocent of the crime with which I am burdened.”

-Bruno Richard Hauptmann in Lindbergh kidnapping case







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