Definition of scam in English:



  • A dishonest scheme; a fraud.

    ‘an insurance scam’
    • ‘Whatever scams Jimmy has contributed to in the past have not caused so many to lose so much.’
    • ‘The combination of the two are highly effective at detecting scams, schemes and illicit practices.’
    • ‘He first forged signatures to get hold of his inheritance, then involved his wife's family in complex life insurance scams.’
    • ‘It will clearly show what many people have known for years - these investment scams are a massive fraud.’
    • ‘If there is an illegal immigrant scam or a marriage scam, then the department must be involved.’
    • ‘The scam tries to trick customers into giving away confidential bank details.’
    • ‘However these rules will not stop you from being scammed as a scam is more psychological than anything else.’
    • ‘Everything zips along at a brisk and comedic pace for the first half hour, with an elaborate scam to rip off a load of smuggled goods being set up.’
    • ‘Why can't they just content themselves with diet scams and insurance fraud?’
    • ‘This does not mean expensive avoidance schemes or illegal evasion scams, or even disappearing from the face of the earth.’
    • ‘Find out why the Feds are out to bust an insurance scam where the doctor pays the patient.’
    • ‘From internet identity fraud to mobile phone scams, it seems there are now a myriad of ways in which crooks can strike against the unwary.’
    • ‘I wonder how many hoaxes and scams are happening in that part of the world as we speak?’
    • ‘Restaurants, in particular, have been hit by skimming scams, especially overseas.’
    • ‘Many companies are plagued by urban legends, scams, and hoaxes delivered by e-mail.’
    • ‘Whoever is behind the scam is a fraud and is attempting to collect personal information.’
    • ‘The thieves run scams in two ways: outright identity theft and impersonation fraud.’
    • ‘One need look no further than the daily newspaper to see that securities fraud is the scam du jour.’
    • ‘Then (of course) there are all the scams and frauds being perpetrated through the Net.’
    • ‘This will focus on mitigating the risk of fraud, hacking, identity theft, scams and schemes.’
    fraud, swindle, fraudulent scheme, racket, trick, diddle
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • Swindle.

    ‘a guy that scams old pensioners out of their savings’
    • ‘I won't be on any particular side; I'll just be out in the world scamming people for my own benefit.’
    • ‘White is also accused of stealing £10,000 worth of funds from an after-school club and a further £2,000 for allegedly scamming money from a charity which helped send pupils on a trip to New Zealand.’
    • ‘I would say that I genuinely hope St. John Vianney had one of their students do the site rather than getting scammed by a web designer, until I realized that if one of their students had done it they would have to list them as an alumnus.’
    • ‘‘I wanted him to stop so that he wouldn't keep scamming people,’ she says, although she doesn't buy or sell through online auctions herself.’
    • ‘Proof that he is intending on scamming people out of money is what the Gardai need.’
    • ‘He's only scamming innocent shopkeepers to make enough money to pay off his father's debts.’
    • ‘She suspects that he may be scamming her to gain Canadian residency.’
    • ‘The bad news is they were scamming us; the good news is they've stopped.’
    • ‘In fact, you would think that when more people came out to accuse you of scamming them after the plea bargain was set would make you shut up and take the punishment before things got worse.’
    • ‘They're basically just scamming people with this fictional concert.’
    • ‘He tries to buy one on the street, but his naïvete and lack of street sense only see him get scammed by con artists.’
    • ‘In this particular report, however, the researchers found about 2% of people admitted to be successfully scammed, with an average loss of about $115.’
    • ‘I'd read in a book once of people who were less intimidated by bankers who wore regular clothes and made house calls, even though they were scamming their clients.’
    • ‘However these rules will not stop you from being scammed as a scam is more psychological than anything else.’
    • ‘It seems the scammers are trying to get increasingly clever, and it's an interesting social engineering trick to try to get people to let down their guard by first warning them about a scam - and then scamming them anyway.’
    • ‘Is your head saleswoman scamming you out of millions?’
    • ‘Talia's an abusive foster mother, scamming the system, that's what she has to do to get by.’
    • ‘And now investigators have to figure out whose claims are legit and who is scamming the system.’
    • ‘This blog entry discusses getting a phishing scam e-mail, and then some further logistics behind what might stop these from happening (and how to avoid getting scammed yourself).’
    • ‘Everybody thinks they know somebody who's scamming welfare because they can't see a wheelchair.’


1960s: of unknown origin.