Abscam (sometimes written ABSCAM) was an FBI sting operation in the late 1970s and early 1980s that led to the convictions of seven members of the United States Congress, among others, for bribery and corruption.
The two-year investigation initially targeted trafficking in stolen property and corruption of prominent businessmen, but later evolved into a public corruption investigation.
The FBI was aided by the Justice Department and a convicted con-man, Mel Weinberg, in videotaping politicians accepting bribes from a fictitious Arabian company in return for various political favors.
More than 30 political figures were investigated, and six members of the House of Representatives and one senator were convicted.
One member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and an inspector for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service were also convicted.
The operation was directed from the FBI’s office in Hauppauge, New York, and was under the supervision of Assistant Director Neil J. Welch, who headed the bureau’s New York division, and Thomas P. Puccio, head of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force for the Eastern District of New York.
“Abscam” was the FBI codename for the operation, which law enforcement authorities said was a contraction of “Arab scam”. The American-Arab Relations Committee made complaints, so officials revised the source of the contraction to “Abdul scam” after the name of its fictitious company.