verb (used with object), scammed, scam·ming.
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Origin of scam
OTHER WORDS FROM scamscammer, noun
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH scamscam , scan
Words nearby scam
What does scam mean?
A scam is a deceptive scheme or trick used to cheat someone out of something, especially money.
Scam is also a verb meaning to cheat someone in such a way.
Example: Banks will never call you asking for your credit card number or social security number over the phone. If someone calls and asks for information like that, it’s a scam.
Where does scam come from?
Fittingly, the exact origin of scam is unknown. The first records of the word come from the 1960s, and it was originally and is still primarily used in the United States. It’s thought to have come from the slang of carnival workers (who are of course known for rigging games so they can’t be won), but little else is known about its origin.
You know those emails you get from a guy who just needs you to send him the very small sum of $5,000 so he can set you up with a million-dollar inheritance from a foreign prince? Those are scams. (Hopefully you knew that.) A scam is a trick to get something out of you, usually money. It’s also called a swindle or a confidence game, which refers to the fact that the scammer has to gain your confidence before scamming you. (Confidence is also the basis of con in con artist, which is a synonym for scammer and scam artist.) Scams can be big or small, but the common element is that the person being scammed never gets what they’re promised (like that inheritance from the prince), unless it’s a really good scam, in which they’ll send you a little bit of money to make you think the whole thing is legit. (Hint: it’s never legit.) Scam is sometimes used in phrases that refer to the medium the scammer uses for the scheme, such as email scam or phone scam. Some specific scams become so popular that they get their own name, such as pyramid scheme and Ponzi scheme.
Sometimes, people use the word scam in a more general way to refer to something that they think is rigged or deeply unfair, as in College textbooks are such a scam—they make you buy new ones that are exactly the same as the old ones.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to scam?
- scammer (noun)
What are some synonyms for scam?
What are some words that share a root or word element with scam?
What are some words that often get used in discussing scam?
How is scam used in real life?
Scam is an informal word often used to refer to the kind of fraudulent schemes seen in spam emails, but it can also be applied to bigger or more sophisticated swindles, like pyramid schemes.
I have just received an email
"Your Santander Online Banking has been temporarily locked.
Action required: Please verify your account."
Then a link to click.
I don't have a Santander account. But if you did you might be tempted. DO NOT CLICK. It is a scam. Delete delete.
— Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) March 8, 2020
— KentOnline (@Kent_Online) May 8, 2017
Ok a 4 pack (6 liters) of diet coke in bottles is literally HALF the price of a 6 pack (5 liters) of the same stuff in cans. That is such a scam
— M I K I #cancelalthia2020 (@KIRBYKILOS) March 13, 2020
Try using scam!
Is scam used correctly in the following sentence?
It’s terrible to see people losing their life savings to phone scams.
Example sentences from the Web for scam
It can be all kinds of scams and promises that there are “red flags” that you ignore.“People want to believe”: How Love Fraud builds an absorbing docuseries around a romantic con man|Alissa Wilkinson|September 4, 2020|Vox
In this case, the company is creating fake financial data like credit card transactions that it can feed into machine-learning algorithms to better help them spot credit card scams and other problems.Why American Express is trying technology that makes deepfake videos look real|jonathanvanian2015|September 3, 2020|Fortune
Another scam, migrating from telex, was sending an invoice to a firm for its listing in a non-existent fax directory.
More people spending time online also creates a bigger pool for phishing attacks and other scams.
Earning ownership had come to feel like a scam—even when it came to the things that we felt made life worth living.
The Wounded Warrior Project is certainly not a scam, nor an ill-meaning charity.
Clients who are wary of online transactions are liable to see escorts with print ads as less likely to cheat or scam them.
“There are plenty of companies that are more than happy to spam and scam customers with bare-minimum products,” McEwen says.
Then I heard “Stairway to Heaven” on the radio, and his scam was exposed.
(a) A jar not properly vulcanized may come apart at the scam.The Automobile Storage Battery|O. A. Witte
They let the victims profit in the first round or two of the scam.After the Rain|Sam Vaknin