\ ˈskam How to pronounce scam (audio) \

Definition of scam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation an insurance scam


scammed; scamming; scams

Definition of scam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to deceive and defraud (someone) … the law firm had got the lucrative job of defending the corporate head of a savings and loan that had scammed another thousand or so people out of their savings …— Joseph Wambaugh
2 : to obtain (something, such as money) by a scam A Boston hedge fund manager who scammed millions of dollars from friends, family and other investors in what authorities say was a Ponzi scheme has been sent to prison for more than 14 years.The Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram & Gazette

Synonyms for scam

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of scam in a Sentence

Noun She was the victim of an insurance scam. a sophisticated credit card scam Verb The company scammed hundreds of people out of their life savings. I could tell they were scamming you and charging too much. They scammed a lot of money from unwary customers.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The employee purchased the cards, but later discovered the email had not come from his boss and was a scam, police said. Pioneer Press Staff,, 8 Mar. 2022 Three fraudsters who went on the run after being convicted of carrying out a multimillion-dollar Covid-19 relief scam have been captured in Montenegro, U.S. law enforcement sources said Wednesday. Andrew Blankstein, NBC News, 23 Feb. 2022 Moments after the brash Encino real estate broker was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison for her key role in a tawdry pandemic loan scam, prosecutor Christopher Fenton asked a judge to put her in prison immediately. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 In October the rapper was arrested for allegedly participating in a COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program relief scam along with co-conspirators. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, 24 Apr. 2021 The scam uses social engineering and fraudulent apps to steal money from its unsuspecting victims. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 18 Mar. 2022 One Facebook user posited that the suspect was from out of town and stopping in Seguin just to attempt his scam. Dan Carson, Chron, 17 Mar. 2022 The phishing scam occurred during the administration of Mayor Lee Brand, Dyer’s predecessor. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2022 An officer showed her how to block the number from which the scam originated. cleveland, 13 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a bid to crack down on criminal gangs that operate tow companies and tow truck drivers who scam accident victims with aggressive schemes, aldermen advanced a plan Wednesday to establish a Chicago city tow truck license. John Byrne,, 19 May 2021 The preening old matriarch tends her roses, while Coriolanus’ cousin Tigris scams fancy clothes from her boozy fashion boss. Darren Franich,, 19 May 2020 Hackers are sending more and more bogus but legitimate-looking emails that seem relevant to the coronavirus outbreak but are instead attempts to scam people, according to research by cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2020 Attorney General Daniel Cameron also warned Wednesday of new charity and Medicaid scams his office is seeing related to COVID-19. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, 25 Mar. 2020 Investigate manipulative advertising and scams targeting youth. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 19 Jan. 2020 Two Mississippi men tried to scam the state lottery by submitting a losing ticket that had the winning numbers glued onto it, police said. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, 7 Jan. 2020 Trying to scam the system and make deals to rip people off is easier. Ariel Lebeau, Billboard, 10 Apr. 2019 How to avoid commerce scams: Cybercriminals may take advantage of your need to self-quarantine to scam you out of your money. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 16 Mar. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scam.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of scam


1963, in the meaning defined above


1963, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scam


origin unknown

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Last Updated

5 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on scam

Nglish: Translation of scam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scam for Arabic Speakers


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