I find the word "fraudster" a little bit silly-sounding when used in a serious context. Do there exist any synonyms that are more usable in professional discussions of fraud?

I'm mostly interested in describing people who are engaged in credit card fraud.

  • The word is used currently in the serious context of Canadian parliament debates (unless you count anything Canadian "funny" as some people from the south thinks so). parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/… . Although it is not used in the text of laws. – P. O. Feb 9 '16 at 16:52
  • I believe charlatan would well describe what you're talking about, but you'll probably sound just as silly – Kanga_Roo Feb 9 '16 at 18:04
  • "credit card crook" ? – Graffito Feb 9 '16 at 19:03
  • I wonder if this question might offer an opening for eponymous coinage: a "madoff"? Wikipedia describes Bernie Madoff as a "fraudster." – Rob_Ster Feb 9 '16 at 20:06
  • I tend to defer to the BBC in matters of language correctness: in this article about a convicted credit card "fraudster", they only ever refer to him as "the defendant" or by his actual name. bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33442419 – Max Williams Feb 10 '16 at 10:33

You can just say "fraud", which applies to the person committing the crime as well as the crime itself. eg "He is a fraud".

  • I think this works in some cases, but it sounds a bit strange in others (e.g., "...a strategy used by frauds..."), probably because this usage seems to have a slightly informal connotation that doesn't always translate to situations where we're talking (for instance) about people who commit fraud for a living. I'm mostly interested in talking about professional "fraudsters," which may not have been clear in the original post. – dsaxton Feb 9 '16 at 16:32
  • I think in a legal discussion you would say something like "the person convicted of fraudulent activity". – Max Williams Feb 9 '16 at 16:35
  • @dsaxton Adding a sample sentence (as the single-word-requests tag requires) would help the community find a better word for the context you have in mind. – Lawrence Feb 10 '16 at 6:27

Swindler, confidence man, defaulter, embezzler... any of those work for you? There are also some specialized terms for certain types of fraud (e.g. shark for pool or card playing). It depends a bit what you're looking for.

  • We'd be describing people who commit credit card fraud (I edited my original post). – dsaxton Feb 9 '16 at 16:46
  • How about "defrauder"? It is an accurate if somewhat clumsy term. – Hugh Meyers Feb 9 '16 at 16:51
  • I think that actually sounds better than fraudster. Good suggestion. – dsaxton Feb 9 '16 at 16:55
  • 'con-man' is much more common than the spelled out version and is someone who does this habitually. 'defrauder' is a legal construction but just not used. 'Embezzler' is used but refers to a very specific type of fraud. 'Swindler' sounds best to me but might be a little old fashioned. For the OP, there's no need to have a single noun for this, just say 'that person stole my credit card #' – Mitch Feb 9 '16 at 17:22
  • And don't forget "scam artist", or simply "scammer". – WhatRoughBeast Feb 10 '16 at 5:48

Scammer might work. Collins English Dictionary categorizes it as slang:

a person who perpetrates a scam; swindler

But Ngram shows its frequency in books increasing almost 28-fold between 1985 and 2008, so maybe that categorization needs revisiting.


I think grifter has a suitably sinister tone. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) has this entry for the verb grift:

grift vb {grift, n., perh. alter. of graft} vt (1915) : to obtain (money) illicitly (as in a confidence game) ~ vi : to to acquire money or property illicitly — grift ngrifter n

So a grifter is a person who acquires money or property illicitly, as through a confidence game, a scam, or some other form of fraud.

  • I like this one, even though I think it's just a bit dated - an idiosyncratic sense of connotation that I can't verify. (Perhaps I, too, am a bit dated.) – Rob_Ster Feb 9 '16 at 20:04

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