Definition of scam in English:



  • A dishonest scheme; a fraud.

    ‘an insurance scam’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whoever is behind the scam is a fraud and is attempting to collect personal information.’
    • ‘Find out why the Feds are out to bust an insurance scam where the doctor pays the patient.’
    • ‘Why can't they just content themselves with diet scams and insurance fraud?’
    • ‘Then (of course) there are all the scams and frauds being perpetrated through the Net.’
    • ‘Whatever scams Jimmy has contributed to in the past have not caused so many to lose so much.’
    • ‘It will clearly show what many people have known for years - these investment scams are a massive fraud.’
    • ‘However these rules will not stop you from being scammed as a scam is more psychological than anything else.’
    • ‘This will focus on mitigating the risk of fraud, hacking, identity theft, scams and schemes.’
    • ‘Restaurants, in particular, have been hit by skimming scams, especially overseas.’
    • ‘The scam tries to trick customers into giving away confidential bank details.’
    • ‘If there is an illegal immigrant scam or a marriage scam, then the department must be involved.’
    • ‘The combination of the two are highly effective at detecting scams, schemes and illicit practices.’
    • ‘Many companies are plagued by urban legends, scams, and hoaxes delivered by e-mail.’
    • ‘I wonder how many hoaxes and scams are happening in that part of the world as we speak?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He first forged signatures to get hold of his inheritance, then involved his wife's family in complex life insurance scams.’
    • ‘This does not mean expensive avoidance schemes or illegal evasion scams, or even disappearing from the face of the earth.’
    fraud, swindle, fraudulent scheme, racket, trick, diddle
    con, con trick, flimflam, gyp, kite
    ramp, twist
    hustle, grift, shakedown, bunco, boondoggle
    View synonyms


  • Swindle.

    ‘a guy that scams the elderly out of their savings’
    • ‘Proof that he is intending on scamming people out of money is what the Gardai need.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘However these rules will not stop you from being scammed as a scam is more psychological than anything else.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Talia's an abusive foster mother, scamming the system, that's what she has to do to get by.’
    • ‘Is your head saleswoman scamming you out of millions?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They're basically just scamming people with this fictional concert.’
    • ‘The bad news is they were scamming us; the good news is they've stopped.’
    • ‘I won't be on any particular side; I'll just be out in the world scamming people for my own benefit.’
    • ‘In this particular report, however, the researchers found about 2% of people admitted to be successfully scammed, with an average loss of about $115.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And now investigators have to figure out whose claims are legit and who is scamming the system.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He tries to buy one on the street, but his naïvete and lack of street sense only see him get scammed by con artists.’
    • ‘Everybody thinks they know somebody who's scamming welfare because they can't see a wheelchair.’
    • ‘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.’


1960s: of unknown origin.