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What does fraud mean?

From Ponzi schemes to email scams, fraud takes many forms these days. But how did it start?

  videos Hot for words


Marina Orlova of Hot for Words: Hello my dear students, I've just gotten the most interesting email! It's from the wife of a former prince in a very poor country, who knows of this huge stash of gold All she needs is for me to send her $10,000 ... wait a second! Send her $10,000?!? I'm not sending any money - this sounds like fraud!

Fraud can take so many forms these days, from Ponzi schemes to email scams. But I wonder what form the word "fraud" originally took ... Hot for Words investigates!

Fraud has its roots in the Latin word "fraudem," which meant "deceit" or "injury." This evolved into the Old French word "fraude" in the 1200s and retained the meaning of "deception." In the 1300s, it became the English word "fraud" and added another aspect to its meaning: "criminal deception" or "an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual." In 1850, the word expanded its definition to also include someone who is an imposter.

I'm sure you've heard of a "white lie," but have you heard of a "pious fraud"? In the 1560s, this term was used to describe someone who deceives another for a noble reason. For example, when your girlfriend asks if she looks fat in her jeans and you tell her no, that's a pious fraud, right? She feels good and you don't get in trouble!

Tell me dear students, have you ever committed pious fraud? For your homework, let me know what it was!



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