Ever paid a restaurant bill only to discover they charged you for stuff you never had? What they did was bilk you — cheat you out of money that was justly yours. Shady companies are forever bilking their investors.

To bilk someone is slightly different from plain robbing them, though the effect is the same; it implies a non-violent, subtle and devious method masquerading as legitimate. Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme king, was a classic bilker. On a more enjoyable note, one of the greatest bilkers in TV history was the appropriately named Sergeant Bilko, played by the comedian Phil Silvers. His eternal card games, promotions and get-rich-quick schemes were all designed to part some poor sucker from their cash. Watch and learn from the master.

Definitions of bilk
  1. verb

    cheat somebody out of what is due, especially money

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    type of:

    cheat, chisel, rip off

    deprive somebody of something by deceit

  2. verb

    evade payment to

    bilked his creditors”
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    type of:


    keep from having, keeping, or obtaining

  3. verb

    escape, either physically or mentally

    elude, evade
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    type of:

    break loose, escape, get away

    run away from confinement

  4. verb

    hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of

    baffle, cross, foil, frustrate, queer, scotch, scuttle, spoil, thwart
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    disappoint, let down

    fail to meet the hopes or expectations of

    destroy or break

    hamper the progress of; impede

    destroy or cause to fail
    betray, fail

    disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake
    come short, fall short

    fail to meet (expectations or standards)
    disenchant, disillusion

    free from enchantment

    cause the ruin or downfall of

    cause the failure or ruin of

    ruin utterly
    type of:

    forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, preempt, prevent

    keep from happening or arising; make impossible

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