Cheating Your Way to the Top Rarely Goes Unnoticed How Gatsby earned his wealth is a mystery to his party guests, and rumors abound about his past. Some say he was a "German spy during the war," while others insist he is a criminal who "killed a man." Gatsby himself claims that he attended Oxford and inherited money from his family, then lost it and made a fortune in the "drug business" and then the "oil business." The truth, however, eventually comes out. After Tom Buchanan suspects that Gatsby is having an affair with his wife, he conducts an "investigation" and discovers that Gatsby made his money illegally through bootlegging. Gatsby clearly couldn't keep his criminal activity a secret, and the same is often true for those who make money through dishonest means today.