is when a scammer — sometimes called a con artist
— uses deceit to deprive a "mark", or targeted victim, of money and/or property. In most cases, a scam constitutes fraud, which is a felony. However, there are some business practices that are not illegal per se
, but are often frowned upon by government watchdogs like the Federal Trade Commission (you can find those either here or under Category:Consumer issues
. Depending on what type of person you ask, these practices are either the sign of "good salesmanship" or of a "shady business."
Successful scams require that scammers have higher-than-normal levels of immorality
— not to mention the ability to produce copious amounts of bullshit
on the fly.