a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
verb (used with object), scammed, scamming.
to cheat or defraud with a scam.

1960–65; orig. carnival argot; of obscure origin

scammer, noun

scam, scan. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
scam (skæm)
1.  a stratagem for gain; a swindle
vb , scams, scamming, scammed
2.  (tr) to swindle (someone) by means of a trick

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1963, n. and v., U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Anyways, it's no more of a scam than academia in general is a scam.
But given the huge amount of paperwork required to keep his scam going, it
  seems unlikely that no one else knew about it.
For nature's scam artists survival means lying, stealing, or vanishing in place.
But it creates a lot of false alarms and continues to do so even after you tell
  a site is not a scam.
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