Estafa

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Estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is committed by various means.

Contents

With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence

(a) By altering the substance, quantity, or quality or anything of value which the offender shall deliver by virtue of an obligation to do so, even though such obligation be based on an immoral or illegal consideration.
(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property 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, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property.
(c) By taking undue advantage of the signature of the offended party in blank, and by writing any document above such signature in blank, to the prejudice of the offended party or of any third person.

By means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts

Article 315, paragraph (2) of the Revised Penal Code covers the commission of estafa by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud. The elements of estafa by means of deceit, whether committed by false pretenses or concealment, are the following: (1) There must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; (2) Such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud; (3) 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 the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; and (4) As a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.[1] The fraudulent acts under Article 315 (2) are:

  • (a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.
  • (b) By altering the quality, fineness or weight of anything pertaining to his art or business.
  • (c) By pretending to have bribed any Government employee, without prejudice to the action for calumny which the offended party may deem proper to bring against the offender. In this case, the offender shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty.
  • (d) By post-dating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or the payee or holder that said check has been dishonored for lack of insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.
  • (e) By obtaining any food, refreshment or accommodation at a hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house, or apartment house and the like without paying therefor, with intent to defraud the proprietor or manager thereof, or by obtaining credit at hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house, or apartment house by the use of any false pretense, or by abandoning or surreptitiously removing any part of his baggage from a hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house or apartment house after obtaining credit, food, refreshment or accommodation therein without paying for his food, refreshment or accommodation.

Under Article 315 (2)(a)

Article 315 (2)(a) covers estafa by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, by using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.

In the prosecution for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the RPC, it is indispensable that the element of deceit, consisting in the false statement or fraudulent representation of the accused, be made prior to, or at least simultaneously with, the delivery of the thing by the complainant.[2] The false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, it being essential that such false statement or representation constitutes the very cause or the only motive which induces the offended party to part with his money. In the absence of such requisite, any subsequent act of the accused, however fraudulent and suspicious it might appear, cannot serve as basis for prosecution for estafa under the said provision.[3]

Under Article 315 (2)(b)

By altering the quality, fineness or weight of anything pertaining to his art or business.

Under Article 315 (2)(c)

By pretending to have bribed any Government employee, without prejudice to the action for calumny which the offended party may deem proper to bring against the offender. In this case, the offender shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty.

Under Article 315 (2)(d)

By post-dating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or the payee or holder that said check has been dishonored for lack of insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.

Under Article 315 (2)(e)

By obtaining any food, refreshment or accommodation at a hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house, or apartment house and the like without paying therefor, with intent to defraud the proprietor or manager thereof, or by obtaining credit at hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house, or apartment house by the use of any false pretense, or by abandoning or surreptitiously removing any part of his baggage from a hotel, inn, restaurant, boarding house, lodging house or apartment house after obtaining credit, food, refreshment or accommodation therein without paying for his food, refreshment or accommodation.


Through fraudulent means

(a) By inducing another, by means of deceit, to sign any document.
(b) By resorting to some fraudulent practice to insure success in a gambling game.
(c) By removing, concealing or destroying, in whole or in part, any court record, office files, document or any other papers.


Penalties

The penalty for any person found guilty of committing estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code depends on the amount involved.

  • The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
  • The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount of the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
  • The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos.
  • By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not exceed 200 pesos.

Complex crime of estafa through falsification of documents

Whenever a person carries out on a public, official or commercial document any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the RPC as a necessary means to perpetrate another crime, like estafa, theft, or malversation, a complex crime is formed by the two crimes.[4] The falsification of a public, official, or commercial document may be a means of committing estafa, because before the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated, damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of public, official or commercial document. In other words, the crime of falsification has already existed. Actually utilizing that falsified public, official or commercial document to defraud another is estafa. But the damage is caused by the commission of estafa, not by the falsification of the document. Therefore, the falsification of the public, official or commercial document is only a necessary means to commit the estafa.[5] See also Complex crimes and Falsification of documents.


Other forms of swindling

Under Article 316 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium period and a fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not more than three times such value, shall be imposed upon:

1. Any person who, pretending to be owner of any real property, shall convey, sell, encumber or mortgage the same.
2. Any person, who, knowing that real property is encumbered, shall dispose of the same, although such encumbrance be not recorded.
3. The owner of any personal property who shall wrongfully take it from its lawful possessor, to the prejudice of the latter or any third person.
4. Any person who, to the prejudice of another, shall execute any fictitious contract.
5. Any person who shall accept any compensation given him under the belief that it was in payment of services rendered or labor performed by him, when in fact he did not actually perform such services or labor.
6. Any person who, while being a surety in a bond given in a criminal or civil action, without express authority from the court or before the cancellation of his bond or before being relieved from the obligation contracted by him, shall sell, mortgage, or, in any other manner, encumber the real property or properties with which he guaranteed the fulfillment of such obligation.


Swindling a minor

Any person who taking advantage of the inexperience or emotions or feelings of a minor, to his detriment, shall induce him to assume any obligation or to give any release or execute a transfer of any property right in consideration of some loan of money, credit or other personal property, whether the loan clearly appears in the document or is shown in any other form, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of a sum ranging from 10 to 50 per cent of the value of the obligation contracted by the minor.[6]


Other deceits

The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter. Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.[7]


References

  1. Ambito vs. People, G.R. No. 127327, 13 February 2009
  2. Ambito vs. People, G.R. No. 127327, 13 February 2009
  3. Ambito vs. People, G.R. No. 127327, 13 February 2009
  4. Ambito vs. People, G.R. No. 127327, 13 February 2009
  5. Ambito vs. People, G.R. No. 127327, 13 February 2009
  6. Revised Penal Code, Art. 317
  7. Revised Penal Code, Art. 318
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