I'm not a criminal and I never have been one, but I have seen many successful criminals out there. One of my best friends sells a lot of marijuana, is considered a criminal, but makes over 100,000 dollars per year. And yes, criminals get caught often, but not always. It's not always "dead or in jail." Plenty live their entire lives as criminals.
Yes, I believe that crime pays, because most of the people who commit crime get away with it. A drunk driver has to drive drunk 100 times before he is caught. Most people who embezzle or in other ways take advantage of weak people usually get away with it. If they are caught, they are usually only given slaps on the wrist.
Crime pays in many ways. Prison and jail systems are big business. For perpetrators of crime, it pays as well. It is much more profitable to be in illegal trading of any sort than it is to be making minimum wage at Mc Donald's. The appeal of money is there because crime makes money for everyone.
...And everybody does it.
Honestly, yes, I believe crime does pay. Crime has made people rich in the past and some of them have gotten away with it. Crime does come with risk, but as with everything, if you're smart you can learn how to at least avoid these risks.
No, crime does not pay. Someone may devise the perfect embezzlement scheme, the perfect heist, or the perfect Ponzi scheme and make millions of dollars off of it. A petty thief may pick a pocket and get away with a few hundred dollars. Ultimately, they will all pay, in one way or another. Fate has a way of keeping score and settling up with people. Whether the criminal ends up in jail, or murdered by an accomplice, or shot by his lover, crime does not pay.