Difference Wiki

Forgery vs. Fraud: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on October 22, 2023
Forgery involves creating or altering a document with deceitful intent, while fraud refers to deception for personal gain, often financial.

Key Differences

Forgery and Fraud both revolve around deceptive practices, but they manifest differently. Forgery pertains to the act of creating, altering, or imitating objects or documents with the intent to deceive. In contrast, fraud encompasses a broader range of deceptive actions, carried out to achieve personal gain, usually at someone else's expense.
At its core, forgery deals predominantly with tangible items, especially documents. For instance, creating a counterfeit painting or falsifying a signature on a check both fall under forgery. However, fraud operates on a broader spectrum, encompassing acts like misrepresenting financial information, scamming individuals, or engaging in deceptive business practices.
Legally speaking, both forgery and fraud are crimes, but they're prosecuted differently. Forgery is typically focused on the act of falsification itself. Fraud, on the other hand, examines the intent behind the deception, and whether there was an aim to achieve unfair or unlawful gain.
In terms of consequences, victims of forgery often face issues related to authenticity and credibility of documents or items. Fraud victims, however, typically suffer financial losses, damaged reputations, or other personal setbacks due to being deceived.
While forgery is a specific form of fraud, not all fraudulent acts involve forgery. For instance, a person can commit fraud by misrepresenting their income on a loan application without forging any documents. In contrast, forging a will would involve both forgery and fraud.

Comparison Chart


Creation or alteration of documents/items deceitfully.
Deception for personal gain, often financial.


Typically involves tangible items or documents.
Encompasses a range of deceptive actions.

Legal Focus

The act of falsification.
The intent and outcome of the deception.

Typical Consequences

Issues related to authenticity and credibility.
Financial losses, damaged reputations, or personal setbacks.


A specific form of fraud.
A broader category of deception, which can include forgery among other deceptive acts.

Forgery and Fraud Definitions


The illegal reproduction of currency or stamps.
The criminal was caught with forgery of $100 bills.


Unfair trickery to gain advantage.
The con artist's scheme was a clear act of fraud.


The act of producing an imitation or counterfeit.
The painting was dismissed as a forgery.


Deceptive action for personal gain.
He was charged with fraud after scamming investors.


The deceptive alteration of written documents.
The forgery of the will led to a lengthy court battle.


Misrepresentation or deception in business.
The company faced allegations of accounting fraud.


The falsification of a document or signature.
The signature on the check was a clear forgery.


A person who pretends to be someone they're not.
He turned out to be a fraud, not the hero everyone believed.


The act of forging something, especially the unlawful act of counterfeiting a document or object for the purposes of fraud or deception.


A deception practiced in order to induce another to give up possession of property or surrender a right.


Something that has been forged, especially a document that has been copied or remade to look like the original.


A piece of trickery; a trick.


The act of forging metal into shape.
The forgery of horseshoes


One that defrauds; a cheat.


The act of forging, fabricating, or producing falsely; especially the crime of fraudulently making or altering a writing or signature purporting to be made by another, the false making or material alteration of or addition to a written instrument for the purpose of deceit and fraud.
The forgery of a bond


One who assumes a false pose; an impostor.


That which is forged, fabricated, falsely devised or counterfeited.


(law) The crime of stealing or otherwise illegally obtaining money by use of deception tactics.


(archaic) An invention, creation.


Any act of deception carried out for the purpose of unfair, undeserved and/or unlawful gain.


The act of forging metal into shape.
Useless the forgeryOf brazen shield and spear.


The assumption of a false identity to such deceptive end.


The act of forging, fabricating, or producing falsely; esp., the crime of fraudulently making or altering a writing or signature purporting to be made by another; the false making or material alteration of or addition to a written instrument for the purpose of deceit and fraud; as, the forgery of a bond.


A person who performs any such trick.


That which is forged, fabricated, falsely devised, or counterfeited.
These are the forgeries of jealously.
The writings going under the name of Aristobulus were a forgery of the second century.


(obsolete) A trap or snare.


A copy that is represented as the original


(obsolete) To defraud


Criminal falsification by making or altering an instrument with intent to defraud


Deception deliberately practiced with a view to gaining an unlawful or unfair advantage; artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured; injurious stratagem; deceit; trick.
If success a lover's toil attends,Few ask, if fraud or force attained his ends.


The act of falsely replicating artwork.
The sculpture was a forgery of a famous artist's work.


An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of obtaining some valuable thing or promise from another.


A trap or snare.
To draw the proud King Ahab into fraud.


Intentional deception resulting in injury to another person


A person who makes deceitful pretenses


Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage


Dishonesty involving financial or personal deceit.
The elderly woman was a victim of insurance fraud.


If a document is mistakenly altered, is it forgery?

Forgery requires intent to deceive; a genuine mistake doesn't qualify.

Can a forged artwork be considered fraud?

Yes, if sold as an original, the act constitutes both forgery and fraud.

Does forgery only involve documents?

No, forgery can involve artwork, currency, stamps, and more.

Is identity theft a form of fraud?

Yes, identity theft is a type of fraud where personal data is used deceitfully.

Are all fraudulent acts illegal?

While many are, the legality depends on the nature and jurisdiction.

Can digital signatures be forged?

Yes, digital signatures, like physical ones, can be subject to forgery.

How can one protect against fraud?

Measures include verifying sources, safeguarding personal info, and regular monitoring.

Is forgery always considered fraud?

While forgery is a form of fraud, not all fraud involves forgery.

Can a forgery be committed without fraudulent intent?

Typically, forgery implies deceitful intent; otherwise, it's just replication.

Who typically investigates fraud?

Authorities like the FBI or specialized fraud departments in corporations.

What's the primary aim of fraud?

Fraud aims to achieve personal gain, often financial, through deception.

Is misrepresentation in advertising considered fraud?

Yes, misleading advertisements can be deemed fraudulent.

Can fraud occur without financial loss?

Yes, fraud can lead to non-financial harms like reputation damage or personal setbacks.

Can someone unintentionally commit fraud?

Fraud requires a deceptive intent; without it, it's likely a mistake or negligence.

Does forgery always involve tangible items?

Often, but digital forgeries, like altered emails, also exist.

Can technology detect forgeries?

Yes, techniques like digital watermarking help identify forgeries.

Can verbal lies be considered forgery?

No, forgery involves creating or altering physical or digital objects/documents.

Is tax evasion a form of fraud?

Yes, misrepresenting financials to avoid taxes is fraudulent.

Is replicating art for personal use forgery?

If there's no intent to deceive or sell as original, it's replication, not forgery.

Are forgeries always done for financial gain?

Not always; while often financial, motivations can also be reputational or personal.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons