Estafa

1.      Define Estafa

Estafa is a criminal offense wherein a person defrauds another by the following means:

 

1)      By UNFAITHFULNESS or ABUSE OF CONFIDENCE;

2)      By DECEIT;

3)      By FRAUDULENT MEANS/

 

Estafa is committed by a person who defrauds another causing him to suffer damage, by means of unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, or of false pretense or fraudulent acts.

 

2.      Explain “Estafa through unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence.”

Estafa through unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence is done by:

 

(a)   Altering quality, quantity and substance of subject matter of contract;

(b)   Misappropriating or converting goods/property of another;

(c)    Taking advantage of a signature in blank

 

3.      Explain “Estafa through deceit or fraudulent acts.”

Estafa through deceit or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud is done by:

 

(a)   Using fictitious name as means of deceit;

(b)   Altering quality, fineness or weight of anything pertaining to art or business;

(c)    By issuing unfunded checks or postdated checks;

(d)   Availing of services of hotel, inn, restaurants etc. without paying therefor.

 

4.      Explain “Estafa through fraudulent means.”

Estafa through fraudulent means is done by:

 

(a)   Inducing another, by means of deceit, to sign any document;

(b)   Resorting to some fraudulent practice to ensure success in a gambling game;

(c)    Removing, concealing, or destroying, in whole or in part, any record, office files, document and other papers.

 

5.      What are the indispensable elements of estafa?

Estafa has two indispensable basic elements:

 

(a)   Fraud; and

(b)   Resulting damage or intent to cause damage capable of pecuniary estimation.

 

6.      What is Fraud?

Fraud, in its general sense, is deemed to comprise anything calculated to deceive, including all acts, omissions and concealment involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust or confidence justly reposed, resulting in damage to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage is taken of another. It is a generic term embracing all multifarious means which human ingenuity can device, and which are resorted to by one individual to secure an advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth and includes all surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling and any unfair way by which another is cheated. And deceit is the false representation of a matter of fact whether by words or conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed which deceives or is intended to deceive another so he shall act upon it to his legal injury. The false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud. (Alcantara v. Court of Appeals, 416 SCRA 418 (1998))

Deceit is a species of fraud. (Garcia v. People, G.R. No. 144785, 11 September 1985)

 

7.      Is “intent to defraud” a necessary element of estafa?

Not really. Intent to defraud is not necessary in all types of estafa.

 

It is true that it is sometimes said that "deception with intent to defraud" is an essential requisite of the crime of estafa, but while this is true as to estafas in general, it is not true of those estafas mentioned in the article under consideration, except in so far the abuse of confidence in misappropriating the funds or property after they have come to the hands of the offender may be said to be a fraud upon the person injured thereby. (United States v. Pascual, G.R. No. L-4265, 26 March 1908)

 

8.      What kind of damage or intent to cause damage is required in Estafa?

Damage or prejudice may consist of:

(a)   The offended party being deprived of his money or property as a result of the defraudation;

(b)   Disturbance of property rights;

(c)    Temporary prejudice.

(Nagrampa v. People, 435 Phil. 455)

 

Certainly, disturbance of property rights is equivalent to damage and is in itself sufficient to constitute injury within the meaning of Art. 315, par. 1 (b) of the RPC. (Batulanon v. People, G.R. No. 139857, 15 September 2006)

 

9.      What are the elements of Estafa with unfaithfulness, under Article 315, par. 1 (a) of the Revised Penal Code?

The elements of Estafa under Article 315, 1(a) of the Revised Penal Code,

 

(a)   That the offender has an onerous obligation to deliver something of value;

(b)   That he alters its substance, quantity or quality

(c)    That damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third persons;

 

10.  What if the obligation asked is illegal?

It is still estafa even if the obligation be based is immoral or illegal.

 

11.  What are the elements of Estafa with abuse of confidence, under Article 315, par. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code?

The elements of Estafa under Article 315, 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code,

 

(a)   That money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on commission or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same;

(b)   That there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; and

(c)    That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another;

(d)   That there is demand by the offended party to the offender.

(Asejo v. People, 555 Phil. 106, (2007))

 

The second element establishes three ways in which estafa may be committed under this category:

  1. Misappropriation of the thing received – the act of taking something for one’s own benefit;
  2. Conversion of the thing received – the act of using or disposing of another’s property as it was one’s own;
  3. Denial of the receipt of the thing received.

 

12.  What do you mean by “Misappropriation” or “conversion”?

The words "convert" and "misappropriate" as used in the aforequoted Article 315, connote an act of using or disposing of another’s property as if it were one’s own or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To "misappropriate" a thing of value for one’s own use or benefit, not only the conversion to one’s personal advantage but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another without a right. (Sy v. People, G.R. No. 85785, 24 April 1989)

 

It is well-settled that the essence of estafa thru misappropriation is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received to the prejudice of the owner (U.S. vs. Ramirez, 9 Phil. 67).

 

Misappropriation or conversion may be proved by the prosecution by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. (Lee v. People, G.R.No. 157781, 11 April 2005)

 

Failure to account upon demand, for funds or property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. (People v. Sullano, G.R. No. L-18209, 30 June 1966)

 

13.  What do you mean by denial of the receipt of the thing received?

It means that a person who has possession of a thing, does not return or denies receiving the thing to the owner.

 

There are two kinds of possession:

a)      Material Possession – The actual physical possession of personal property, where the possessor cannot claim a better right to such a property than that of its owner.

b)      Juridical Possession – It is present when the possession of the personal property arises from a lawful causation, contract or agreement, express or implied, written or unwritten or by virtue of a provision of law.

 

When the money, goods, or any other personal property is received by the offender from the offended party (1) in trust or (2) on commission or (3) for administration, the offender acquires both material or physical possession and juridical possession of the thing received. (Santos v. People, 181 SCRA 487, 1990)

 

Juridical possession means a possession which gives the transferee a right over the thing which the transferee may set up even against the owner.

 

14.  Is there a difference between Theft and Estafa?

Yes. If the offender has been given Material Possession of the personal property and he misappropriates the same, he is liable for the crime of THEFT.

 

However, if the offender has been given Juridical Possession and Material Possession of the personal property and he misappropriates the same, he is liable for the crime of ESTAFA.

 

Theft should not be confused with estafa. According to Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino in his book on the Revised Penal Code, "The principal distinction between the two crimes is that in theft the thing is taken while in estafa the accused receives the property and converts it to his own use or benefit. However, there may be theft even if the accused has possession of the property. If he was entrusted only with the material or physical (natural) or de facto possession of the thing, his misappropriation of the same constitutes theft, but if he has the juridical possession of the thing, his conversion of the same constitutes embezzlement or estafa."

 

15.  What are the elements of theft as compared to Estafa?

Theft has the following elements:

(a)   That there be taking of personal property;

(b)   That said property belongs to another;

(c)    That the taking be done with intent to gain;

(d)   That the taking be done without the consent of the owner;

(e)   That the taking be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force against things.

(U.S. v. De Vera, 43 Phil. 1000)

 

16.  What is the nature of Demand needed as element of Estafa?

There must be a formal demand on the offender to comply with his obligation before he can be charged with estafa.

 

The following are the exceptions:

a)      When the offender’s obligation to comply is subject to a period;

b)      When the accused cannot be located despite due diligence.

 

There can be no estafa without a previous demand. Demand may be made in whatever form. The law does not require a demand as a condition precedent to the existence of the crime of embezzlement. It so happens only that failure to account, upon demand for funds or property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. The same however, be established in the case at bar. (Tubb v. People, G.R. No. L-9811, 22 April 1957)

 

The word "Demand" need not be used to show that demand had, indeed, been made upon the person charged with the offense. A query as to the whereabouts of the money is tantamount to a demand. (Barrameda v. Court of Appeals, 313 SCRA 477)

 

No specific type of proof is required to show that there was demand. Demand need not even be formal; it may be verbal. (Lee v. People, G.R. No. 157781, 11 April 2005)

 

In a prosecution for estafa, demand is not necessary where there is evidence of misappropriation or conversion. (Sy v. People, G.R. No. 85785, 24 April 1989)

 

The consummation of the crime of [estafa]… does not depend on the fact that a request for the return of the money is first made and refused in order that the author of the crime should comply with the obligation to return the sum misapplied. The appropriation or conversion of money received to the prejudice of the owner thereof [is] the sole essential [fact] which constitute the crime of [estafa], and thereupon the author thereof incurs the penalty imposed by the [RPC]. (Salazar v. People, 439 Phil. 762)

 

Even if demand is not required by law, it is necessary to prove misappropriation. Failure to account, upon demand, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. (Tan v. People, G.R. No. 153460, 29 January 2007)

 

17.  What are the elements of Estafa by taking undue advantage of the signature in blank, under Article 315, par. 1(c) of the Revised Penal Code?

The elements of Estafa by taking undue advantage of the signature in blank are:

 

(a)   That the paper with the signature of the offended party be in blank;

(b)   That the offended party should have delivered it to the offender;

(c)    That above the signature of the offended party a document is written by the offender without authority to do so;

(d)   That the document so written creates a liability of, or causes damage to the offended party or any third person.

 

18.  What are the elements of Estafa by means of deceit, under Article 315, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code?

The elements of Estafa by means of deceit are as follows:

 

(a)   That there must be false pretenses, fraudulent act or fraudulent means;

(b)   That such pretenses, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud;

(c)    That the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means, that is, he was induced to part with his money or property because of false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means;

(d)   That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.

 

19.  What are the acts which would constitute a deceitful act?

As a general rule, in order to constitute deceit, there must be a false representation as a matter of fact, a positive assertion of falsehood. (People vs. Manahan, CA- G.R. No. 19602-R, 20 May 1958)

 

It might also consist in a fraudulent misrepresentation or contrivance by which one man deceives another who has no means of detecting the fraud to the injury of another. (People vs. Babel, 10 CAR 133)

 

There is no deceit if the complainant was aware if the fictitious nature of the pretense.

 

20.  What if the element of deceit was done AFTER the fraudulent act?

One of the elements of estafa is that “The false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud.” If deceit was not present or occurred after the commission of the fraud, there is no estafa. Likewise also, if the deceit was not the motivating factor for the offended party to get involved in a transaction with the offending party.

 

 21.  If there was no fraud on the part on the offending party, will the case for Estafa prosper?

No. Fraud is an element of Estafa. Its absence is fatal to the prosecution of the case. When the allegation of deceit has not been proven, there is no Estafa. (Candido dela Cruz, CA 37 O.G. 1958)

 

22.  How is Estafa by means of deceit committed:

Estafa by means of deceit are committed in the following ways:

 

a)      Art. 315, 2 (a)

i)        By using a fictitious name.

ii)      By falsely pretending to possess

  1.                                                               i.      Power
  2.                                                             ii.      Influence
  3.                                                           iii.      Qualifications
  4.                                                            iv.      Property
  5.                                                              v.      Credit
  6.                                                            vi.      Agency
  7.                                                          vii.      Business or imaginary transactions

iii)    By means of other similar deceits

 

b)      Art. 315, 2 (b) – By altering the quality, fineness or weight of anything pertaining to his business.

 

c)      Art. 315, 2 (c) – By pretending to have bribed any government employee

 

d)      Art. 315, 2 (d)

i)        That the offender post-dated a check or issued a check in payment of an obligation;

ii)      That such postdating or issuing a check was done when the offender had no funds in the bank or his funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check.

 

e)      Art 315, 2 (e)

i)        By obtaining food, refreshment or accommodation at hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house or apartment house without paying thereof, with intent to defraud the proprietor or manager thereof;

ii)      By obtaining credit at any of the said establishments by the use of any false pretense;

iii)    By abandoning or surreptitiously removing any part of his baggage from any of the said establishment after obtaining credit, food, refreshment or accommodation therein, without paying thereof.

 

23.  Is mere issuance of a check with no funds, a crime of estafa?

No. The issuance of the check by the offender prior or simultaneous with the transaction must be for the purpose of contracting the obligation. Otherwise if the check is issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation, no estafa is committed.

 

However, if the check was issued by the debtor for the security of the creditor, but not to be encashed, no estafa is involved.

 

The law penalizes the issuance of a check only if it were itself the immediate consideration for the reciprocal receipt of benefits. In other words, the check must be issued concurrently with, and in exchange for, a material gain to make it a punishable offense under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code. (Castro v. Mendoza, G.R. No. 50173, 21 September 1993)

 

24.  I issued a check to my grocer as advance payment for the groceries he would be delivering. Without my knowledge, my husband had emptied my account. What will happen?

You will not be charged for the crime of estafa since there is already a pre-existing obligation between you and your grocer, with the check as payment for the groceries he would be delivering to you. You did not issue the check prior or simultaneous with any act of fraud, thus it is not the cause of the fraud.

 

It was the rule that the mere issuance of a check with knowledge on the part of the drawer that he had no funds to cover its amount and without informing the payee of such circumstances, does not constitute the crime of estafa if the check was intended as payment of a pre-existing obligation. The reason for the rule is that deceit, to constitute estafa, should be the efficient cause of the defraudation and as such should either be prior to, or simultaneous with the act of fraud. (People v. Lilius)

 

In the issuance of a check as payment for a pre-existing debt, the drawer derives no material benefit in return as its consideration had long been delivered to him before the check was issued. In short, the issuance of the check was not a means to obtain a valuable consideration from the payee. Deceit, to constitute estafa should be the efficient cause of the defraudation. (People v. Fortuno)

 

Good faith is a defense in a charge of estafa by postdating or issuing a check (People v. Villapando, 56 Phil. 31)

 

25.  I sent a notice of dishonor to my cousin, who issued me a check as payment for my catering services. I had found out that his account had no funds. Was deceit involved?

Deceit may not be incolved as your cousin could be charged for the violation of B.P. 22, or the Bouncing Check Law.

 

There is prima facie evidence of deceit when the drawer fails to pay or make arrangement for payment three days after receiving notice of dishonor.

 

26.  Would charging a person for the crime of estafa and violation of the Bouncing Check law, put him in double jeopardy?

No. A person can be charged with two (2) distinct and separate offenses, first under Section 1 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 or the Bouncing Check Law and another under Article 315, 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code.

 

Deceit and damage are essential elements in Article 315 2(d) but are not required in B.P. 22. Under B.P.22, mere issuance of a check that is dishonored gives rise to the presumption of knowledge on the part of the drawer that he issued the same without sufficient funds and hence punishable which is not so under the Revised Penal Code. (Nierras v. Dacuycuy, G.R. No. 59568-76, January 11, 1990)

 

While the filing of the two sets of Information under the provisions of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 and under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, on estafa, may refer to identical acts committed by petitioner, the prosecution thereof cannot be limited to one offense, because a single criminal act may give rise to a multiplicity of offenses and where there is variance or differences between the elements of an offense in one law and another law as in the case at bar there will be no double jeopardy because what the rule on double jeopardy prohibits refers to identity of elements in the two (2) offenses. Otherwise stated prosecution for the same act is not prohibited. What is forbidden is prosecution for the same offense. Hence, the mere filing of the two (2) sets of information does not itself give rise to double jeopardy (People v. Miraflores, 115 SCRA 570).

 

27.  What are the differences between Esatafa and B.P. 22?

Other differences between the two also include the following:

(a)   Damage and deceit are essential elements in Article 315 2(d) but they are not required in B.P. 22.

(b)   A drawer of a dishonored check may be convicted under B.P. 22 even if he had issued the same for a pre-existing obligation, while under Article 315 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, such circumstance negates criminal liability;

(c)    Specific and different penalties are imposed in each of the two offenses;

(d)   Estafa is essential a crime against property, while violation of B.P. 22 is principally a crime against public interest as it does injury to the entire banking system;

(e)   Violations of Article 315 are mala in se, while those of B.P. 22 are mala prohibita.

(Nierras v. Dacuycuy, G.R. No. 59568-76, January 11, 1990)

 

28.  What are the other ways that estafa can be done?

Estafa can be done in the following ways also:

 

a)      By inducing another to sign any document

The elements are:

i)        That the offender induced the offended party to sign a document;

ii)      That deceit be employed to make him sign the document;

iii)    That the offended party personally signed the document;

iv)    That prejudice be caused.

 

b)      By resorting to some fraudulent practice to insure success in gambling

 

c)      By removing, concealing or destroying document

The elements are:

a)      That there be court record, office files, documents or any other papers;

b)      That the offender removed, concealed or destroyed any of them;

c)      That the offender had intent to defraud another.

 

29.  Where can the crime of estafa be prosecuted?

The courts in the place where the crime of estafa was committed has jurisdiction over it. It means that the place where any of the elements of estafa had occurred is where it may be prosecuted, regardless if it is in several places at once.

 

The crime of estafa is a continuing or transitory offense which may be prosecuted at the place where any of the essential elements of the crime took place. One of the essential elements of estafa is damage or prejudice to the offended party. (Buaya v. Polo, G.R. No. L-75079, 26 January 1989)

 

The theory is that a person charged with a transitory offense may be tried in any jurisdiction where the offense is in part committed. In transitory or continuing offenses in which some acts material and essential to the crime and requisite to its consummation occur in one province and some in another, the court of either province has jurisdiction to try the case, it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the case will exclude the others. (Tuzon v. Cruz, G.R. No. L-27410, 28 August 1975)