\ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Prosecutors say Halat believed the Sherrys may have taken some of the scam profits for themselves. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, "Judges Targeted Fast Facts," 26 Apr. 2021 Nugent, a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, previously called the pandemic a scam and has railed against public health restrictions. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 15-21, 2021," 25 Apr. 2021 Global leadership has become an obsession in Germany, and this obsession has lent itself to a particular kind of low-grade scam: one that simulates worldly sophistication for a hometown crowd. Adrian Daub, The New Republic, "The Weird, Extremely German Origins of the Wirecard Scandal," 21 Apr. 2021 The scam cards are being advertised at roughly $20 a pop, and are also offered in bulk. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "You've been vaccinated. So what should you do with your vaccine card?," 21 Apr. 2021 Counterfeit versions of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine have been identified in Mexico and Poland, a Pfizer spokesperson confirmed to ABC News -- adding to the running tally of scam attempts in the U.S. and internationally. Sasha Pezenik, ABC News, "Pfizer identifies counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico, Poland; warns of increase in fraud," 21 Apr. 2021 Nugent, a supporter of ex-President Donald Trump, previously called the pandemic a scam and has railed against public health restrictions., "Ted Nugent, who once dismissed COVID-19, sickened by virus," 20 Apr. 2021 The way this scam works is a bogus check is sent to the victim, with instructions to deposit the funds into a bank account and then promptly wire money elsewhere. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Scammers target a Rolling Stones tribute band, get no satisfaction," 20 Apr. 2021 Yes, your friend may unwittingly introduce you to a scam or scammer. Washington Post, "Ponzi king’s death is a reminder that his con-artist tricks live on," 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The preening old matriarch tends her roses, while Coriolanus’ cousin Tigris scams fancy clothes from her boozy fashion boss. Darren Franich,, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review: Hunger Games prequel's darkly funny, way too long," 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, "One tech company benefiting from the U.S.’s massive temporary workplace shift," 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, "New scams emerging as coronavirus crisis deepens, COVID-19 fraud task force forms," 25 Mar. 2020 Investigate manipulative advertising and scams targeting youth. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Tony Evers unveils sweeping plan aimed at combating youth vaping," 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, "Two men accused of gluing winning numbers onto Mississippi Lottery ticket," 7 Jan. 2020 Trying to scam the system and make deals to rip people off is easier. Ariel Lebeau, Billboard, "Julian Casablancas Talks Music Industry Frustrations, Running a Label & Ignoring Spotify," 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, "How to Keep Yourself Safe From Coronavirus Scams and Fake Health Products," 16 Mar. 2020 According to authorities, some criminals are using the outbreak as an opportunity to scam unsuspecting strangers. Joseph Neese, House Beautiful, "Police Warn of Scammers Knocking on Doors and Pretending to Be From the CDC Amid Coronavirus Outbreak," 15 Mar. 2020

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.

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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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for scam



English Language Learners Definition of scam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people



English Language Learners Definition of scam (Entry 2 of 2)

: to deceive and take money from (someone)
: to get (something, such as money) by deceiving someone

More from Merriam-Webster on scam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scam

Nglish: Translation of scam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scam for Arabic Speakers

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