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A fraud is an act of intentional deception aimed at gaining profit or unfair advantage, resulting in injury to another person. The word also refers to those who commit fraud, including those who present themselves as something they are not. A fraud differs from a hoax in purpose: a hoax is typically perpetuated as a joke or to make a point, rather than for personal gain. Nonetheless, both frauds and hoaxes can result in injury to others.

Instances of fraud can be found in any field, including genealogy. Some examples of fraud include falsified pedigrees, family histories, and family crests, passed off as authentic and sold for profit. Also known as a scam, genealogy fraud takes many forms including fraudulent websites; products and services sold but never received; e-mail and phishing scams that solicit money or information and; of course, identity theft. Genealogist are advised to be cautious in sharing personal information, to be suspect of unsolicited e-mails, and to verify websites offering products and services.

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