Authored by: Simon Mackenzie

Handbook on Crime

Print publication date:  February  2010
Online publication date:  February  2010

Print ISBN: 9781843923725
eBook ISBN: 9781843929680
Adobe ISBN:


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A ‘scam’ has lately become the most commonly applied term to a particular type of consumer-oriented, often mass-marketed, fraud. Other terms used in this area include cons, swindles and stings. The essence of a classic scam is in encouraging a victim to take up an offer that presents itself as loaded in their favour when it is in fact loaded against. A slightly more diluted definition of a scam might be an operation that makes a rip-off seem like legitimate business. Scams therefore involve orchestrated deception in the service of profit-taking. While noting that there is no commonly accepted or legal definition of a scam, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) defines a scam as:

A misleading or deceptive business practice where you receive an unsolicited or uninvited contact (for example by email, letter, phone or ad) and false promises are made to con you out of money. (OFT 2006: 12)

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