Are they synonyms? Is one a broader category to which the other belongs?

Both seem to translate to the same German word "Betrug" which means to deceive somebody in order to get a (financial) benefit from it. I don't see the difference in English.

Examples which might belong to one or both:

  • Saying you would be a friend of the grandson of an elderly person. That grandson is in prison and you need money to get him free. In fact, you don't know the grandson but only want the money.
  • Pyramid schemes: You ask somebody to become part of a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity. They need to pay a certain amount which will go to the current participants. They will be part of the next group which gets paid, but then by way more people.
  • Selling something (e.g. an iPhone) online, but not saying that it is broken
  • Prince of Nigeria (advance-fee scam): You claim to be the prince of Nigeria and you want to avoid taxes. First, you need to have some money in country XY for which you need money of the victim. Then you can transfer a larger amount of which you claim the victim would benefit.
  • Wirecard: You claim to make way more money than you actually do, in order to boost the stock price.

It seems that fraud is the bigger category. So scam is a type of fraud. What are other types of fraud, which are not scams?


1 Answer 1


Fraud is a formal word for a dishonest scheme; scam is an informal word for the same thing.

Meaning of scam in English:


NOUN informal A dishonest scheme; a fraud.

Scam (Lexico)

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