Is there a distinction between the two? Or do members agree that the two tags and can be merged and synonymed?

At this moment, these are the two tag descriptions -

Fraud - For questions related to fraud awareness, prevention, and resolution.

No offense to the author, this is pretty awful, in my opinion.

Scams - any question related to scams where funds are siphoned off innocent victims by one way or other. Related tags "fraud"

A bit better, but both tags can use help. Part of the answer to this question/proposal would simply be to offer two better tag descriptions.

I know this is probably not black and white, but I'd imagine that perhaps 1/3 of question would need one tag, 1/3 the other, and hopefully just 1/3 (or whatever 3 fractions) would be gray area.

  • Merge makes sense to me...
    – keshlam
    Aug 2 '16 at 19:44
  • Is there some subtle distinction that I am missing? If not we will move forward with the merger. Aug 2 '16 at 20:32
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    Not all scams are legally fraud. I'm not sure whether all fraud could be classified as scam, though I believe so. But for our purposes...?
    – keshlam
    Aug 2 '16 at 22:01
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    Is that distinction enough to keep the tags separate? Aug 2 '16 at 22:02
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    I think there is a difference. Please wait a few days before going ahead with a merge, so I can write an answer. Thanks. Aug 3 '16 at 10:47
  • Will wait. Interested to see your thoughts. And once you respond, to see if the current tags are used properly, or if kept separate, do we have some cleanup to do? Aug 3 '16 at 14:09

Ben Miller would definitely put out an well balanced answer. In the meantime ...

and are different in my view.

Fraud would more used at one of attempt by someone trying to impersonate or mislead someone. This question [ Is This Money Laundering? ] to me cannot have a scam tag.

A fraud is sophisticated technique to make away with someone money, e.g. identity theft, intercepting transfers and redoing, skimming cards, etc.

Scam is more a elaborate plan to commit a fraud.

A scam relies more on gullible person to behave in specific way, it works by mass contact to find such persons.

As to whether the distinction is enough or not, I leave it to the group to decide.

  • 4
    I agree there is a difference - a shady merchant perhaps could defraud you by double-charging your credit card, but a scam would generally require you to participate in the actions leading up to the loss of money (you provide your bank details to an email, etc.). However, I also don't know whether this distinction is relevant for this site. For example, if an unwitting victim sends money to the 'lawyer of a long-lost uncle' for 'probate', and doesnt get the 'inheritance' they were promised: it is fraud in the eyes of the victim, but was actually a scam the whole time. Aug 4 '16 at 14:56
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    @Grade'Eh'Bacon - exactly. Nice example Aug 5 '16 at 23:35
  • +1 for the first line... JK :) I still don't have time to write an answer (maybe in a few days), but you wrote much of what I had in mind. +1 for that. Aug 7 '16 at 3:30
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    @BenMiller humm ... we are still not going to let you get away with a comment. Please feel free to edit if posting a new one would take more efforts.
    – Dheer
    Aug 8 '16 at 9:52
  • On reading this answer, I agree, and would look for interested members to just help re-write the tag definitions we have. Aug 9 '16 at 13:11

In my opinion, the and tags should not be combined.

A "scam" is when an individual is tricked into doing something that causes him to lose money.

"Fraud" is deception by misrepresentation. It is the broader term.

When someone obtains my credit card number (perhaps through hacking or skimming) and makes a charge, I have not been scammed. I have not been tricked, and I had no participation in the matter. But the thief has committed fraud by misrepresenting himself as me and making a fraudulent charge to my account.

We often get questions about scams. Some present a scenario and ask if it is a scam, and others are asking for the details on how a particular scam works. In any case, what makes a scam a scam is that the scam artist tricks the victim into participating in his own loss. These should all be tagged .

Questions that ask about fraudulent bank transactions should not be tagged . A few recent examples:

None of these should be tagged .

These "fraud" questions could arguably be tagged . If we're going to clarify the and tags, we should probably look at the tag as well.

Here are some proposals for tag excerpts, to get discussion started:

: Questions about identification, prevention, and resolution of scams. A scam is a type of theft where the victim is tricked into being a participant.

: Questions about identity theft prevention and recovery. Identity theft occurs when a thief steals personal information and uses it to impersonate the victim in financial transactions.

: Questions about fraud, which is a deliberate deception used for unlawful gain. For questions about "scams" or "identity-theft", use those tags instead.


Any kind of fraud that is not a scam would be off-topic here, as unrelated to legitimate personal finance. Note that some things may be fraudulent, but the asker wouldn't know that. For example, many mortgage brokers will suggest filing a gift letter for something that is really a loan. That's fraud. But the asker won't generally realize that. That's going to appear in the answer, not the question. Tags should help askers classify the question. Proper use of a fraud tag won't do that.

How people are using the tag is as a synonym for . So we should formalize that.


Make a synonym for .

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    I can easily see a question "My mortgage broker suggests filing a loan as a gift. Is this fraud?", in which case the questioner would use the fraud tag.
    – AndyT
    Aug 4 '16 at 10:21
  • Scam as subset of fraud makes sense, but I think @andyt demonstrates that they aren't synonymous. Question is whether subset is enough to justify merge. I'm not sure.
    – keshlam
    Aug 6 '16 at 16:15

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