• A Fraud and A Scam: Do you Know The Difference?

    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?

    A scam is a fraudulent scheme generally involving money and some sort of business transaction.

    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 did not exist. 

    Scams reach us in various ways, via telephone, email, or even in person.

    A person carried 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 offence that fraud which is considered very serious.


    Which of the following do you consider to be examples of a fraud and examples of a scam?

    1. Using medical services on another person’s medical card.
    2. Billing clients for 20% more than the actual amount of the goods they purchased.
    3. An email telling you that you won $5 million and all you have to do is send on your bank details.
    4. A politician who accepts cash for giving a construction company political favors. 
    5. 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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