English Vocabulary: The Subtle Difference Between Fraud and Scam
I like it when my students ask me questions that make me think. Yesterday was one of these occasions when a student asked me, right as class was about to end, the difference between the words fraud and scam.
Do you know the difference? Let’s look at it now.
What is a scam?
Scams come in various forms. Maybe you have experienced someone telling you would win a prize if you revealed your credit card details or asking you to donate money to a charity that does not exist?
Scams reach us in various ways, via telephone, email, or even in person.
A person carrying out a scam is called a scammer.
What is fraud?
Fraud implies a deception. It is a breach of confidence or trust.
Fraud is a serious crime and a violation of civil law.
The motivations for fraud can be many. These include monetary gain, discrediting an opponent or adversary. It can be to gain prestige as well as a financial advantage.
If a partner cheats on a husband or wife, he or she can be legitimately called a fraud by the other party if he/she was pretending to be faithful while committing the adultery.
A person who is guilty of fraudulent activity is called a fraudster.
Scams and fraud – what’s the difference?
Fraud is a broader category of wrongdoing than a scam. Scams can belong to the broader category of fraud.
A scam is generally a more minor offense than fraud, which is considered very serious.
Examples and Exercises
Which of the following acts do you consider to be examples of a fraud and examples of a scam?
- Using medical services on another person’s medical card.
- Billing clients for 20% more than the actual amount of the goods they purchased.
- An email telling you that you won $5 million and all you have to do is send on your bank details.
- A politician who accepts cash for giving a construction company political favors.
- A pop-up on your computer telling you that you have been selected as regional manager for a company, but first you have you send on all your personal details.
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What to keep studying? Check out our guides to English idiomatic expressions and English phrasal verbs.