Estafa (Swindling)


Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

1st. 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.

2nd. 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;

3rd. 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; and

4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not exceed 200 pesos, provided that in the four cases mentioned, the fraud be committed by any of the following means:

1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:

(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.

2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:

(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. (As amended by R.A. 4885, approved June 17, 1967.)

(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.

3. Through any of the following 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.

1. Defrauded another
   (a) by abuse of confidence, or
   (b) by means of deceit; and
2. That damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person.

3 Ways Of Committing Estafa With Abuse Of Confidence Under Art. 315 Par. (B):
1. By misappropriating the thing received.
2. By converting the thing received.
3. By denying that the thing was received.


Bar Exam Question (1995)

Estafa & Trust Receipt Law (1995)

Julio obtained a letter of credit from a local bank in order to import auto tires from Japan. To secure payment of his letter of credit, Julio executed a trust receipt in favor of the bank. Upon arrival of the tires, Julio sold them but did not deliver the proceeds to the bank. Julio was charged with estafa under P.D. No. 115 which makes the violation of a trust receipt agreement punishable as estafa under Art. 315, par. (1), subpar. (b), of the Revised Penal Code. Julio contended that P.D. No. 115 was unconstitutional because it violated the Bill of Rights provision against imprisonment for nonpayment of debt. Rule on the contention of Julio, Discuss fully.

Suggested Answer:

Such contention is invalid. A trust receipt arrangement doesn't involve merely a simple loan transaction but includes likewise a security feature where the creditor bank extends financial assistance to the debtor-importer in return for the collateral or security title as to the goods or merchandise being purchased or imported. The title of the bank to the security is the one sought to be protected and not the loan which is a separate and distinct agreement. What is being penalized under P,D. No. 115 is the misuse or misappropriation of the goods or proceeds realized from the sale of the goods, documents or Instruments which are being held in trust for the entrustee-banks. In other words, the law punishes the dishonesty and abuse of confidence in the handling of money or goods to the prejudice of the other, and hence there is no violation of the right against imprisonment for non-payment of debt. (People vs. Nitafan, 207 SCRA 725)

Bar Exam Question (1999)

Estafa (1999)

a. Is there such a crime as estafa through negligence? Explain. 

b. Aurelia introduced Rosa to Victoria, a dealer in jewelry who does business in Timog, Quezon City. Rosa, a resident of Cebu City, agreed to sell a diamond ring and bracelet to Victoria on a commission basis, on condition that, if these items can not be sold, they may be returned to Victoria forthwith. Unable to sell the ring and bracelet, Rosa delivered both items to Aurelia in Cebu City with the understanding that Aurelia shall, in turn, return the items to Victoria in Timog, Quezon City. Aurelia dutifully returned the bracelet to Victoria but sold the ring, kept the cash proceeds thereof to herself, and issued a check to Victoria which bounced. Victoria sued Rosa for estafa under Article 315, R.P.C., Victoria insisting that delivery to a third person of the thing held in trust is not a defense in estafa. Is Rosa criminally liable for estafa under the circumstances? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

a. There is no such crime as estafa through negligence. In estafa, the profit or gain must be obtained by the accused personally, through his own acts, and his mere negligence in allowing another to take advantage of or benefit from the entrusted chattel cannot constitute estafa. (People v. Nepomuceno, CA, 46OG 6135)

b. No, Rosa cannot be held criminally liable for estafa. Although she received the jewelry from Victoria under an obligation to return the same or deliver the proceeds thereof, she did not misappropriate it. In fact, she gave them to Aurelia specifically to be returned to Victoria. The misappropriation was done by Aurelia, and absent the showing of any conspiracy between Aurelia and Rosa, the latter cannot be held criminally liable for Amelia's acts. Furthermore, as explained above, Rosa's negligence which may have allowed Aurelia to misappropriate the jewelry does not make her criminally liable for estafa.

Bar Exam Question (2006)

Estafa vs. Money Market Placement (1996)

On March 31, 1995, Orpheus Financing Corporation received from Maricar the sum of P500,000 as money market placement for sixty days at fifteen (15) per cent interest, and the President of said Corporation issued a check covering the amount including the interest due thereon, postdated May 30, 1995. On the maturity date, however, Orpheus Financing Corporation failed to deliver
back Maricar's money placement with the corresponding interest earned, notwithstanding repeated demands upon said Corporation to comply with its commitment. Did the President of Orpheus Financing Corporation incur any criminal liability for estafa for reason of the nonpayment of the money market placement? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

No, the President of the financing corporation does not incur criminal liability for estafa because a money market transaction partakes of the nature of a loan, such that nonpayment thereof would not give rise to estafa through misappropriation or conversion. In money market placement, there is transfer of ownership of the money to be invested and therefore the liability for its return is civil in nature (Perez vs. Court of Appeals, 127 SCRA 636; Sebreno vs. Court of Appeals etal, G.R. 84096, 26 Jan 95).

Bar Exam Question (2005)

Estafa vs. Theft (2005)

DD was engaged in the warehouse business. Sometime in November 2004, he was in dire need of money. He, thus, sold merchandise deposited in his warehouse to VR for P500,000.00. DD was charged with theft, as principal, while VR as accessory. The court convicted DD of theft but acquitted VR on the ground that he purchased the merchandise in good faith. However, the court ordered VR to return the merchandise to the owner thereof and ordered DD to refund the P500,000.00 to VR. DD moved for the reconsideration of the decision insisting that he should be acquitted of theft because being the depositary, he had juridical possession of the merchandise. VR also moved for the reconsideration of the decision insisting that since he was acquitted of the crime charged, and that he purchased the merchandise in good faith, he is not obligated to return the merchandise to its owner. Rule on the motions with reasons.

Suggested Answer:

The motion for reconsideration should be granted. By depositing the merchandise in his warehouse, he transferred not merely physical but also juridical possession. The element of taking in the crime of theft is wanting. At the most, he could be held liable for estafa for misappropriation of the merchandise deposited. On the other hand, the motion of VR must also be denied.
His acquittal is of no moment because the thing, subject matter of the offense, shall be restored to the owner even though it is found in the possession of a third person who acquired it by lawful means. (Art. 105, RPC)

Bar Exam Question (2005)

Estafa; Elements (2005)

DD purchased a television set for P50,000.00 with the use of a counterfeit credit card. The owner of the establishment had no inkling that the credit card used by DD was counterfeit. What crime or crimes did DD commit? Explain. 

Suggested Answer:

DD committed the crime of estafa under Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code by falsely pretending to posses credit. The elements of estafa under this penal provision are; (1) the accused defrauded another by means of deceit; and (2) damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third party. The accused also violated R.A. No. 8484, which punishes the use or possession of fake or counterfeit credit card.

Bar Exam Question (2000)

Estafa; Falsification of Commercial Document (2000)

Mr. Carlos Gabisi, a customs guard, and Mr, Rico Yto, a private Individual, went to the office of Mr. Diether Ocuarto, a customs broker, and represented themselves as agents of Moonglow Commercial Trading, an Importer of children's clothes and toys. Mr. Gabisi and Mr. Yto engaged Mr. Ocuarto to prepare and file with the Bureau of Customs the necessary Import Entry and Internal Revenue Declaration covering Moonglow's shipment. Mr. Gabisi and Mr. Yto submitted to Mr. Ocuarto a packing list, a commercial invoice, a bill of lading and a Sworn Import Duty Declaration which declared the shipment as children's toys, the taxes and duties of which were computed at P60,000.00. Mr. Ocuarto filed the aforementioned documents with the Manila International Container Port. However, before the shipment was released, a spot check was conducted by Customs Senior Agent James Bandido, who discovered that the contents of the van (shipment)were not children's toys as declared in the shipping documents but 1,000 units of video cassette recorders with taxes and duties computed at P600,000.00. A hold order and warrant of seizure and detention were then issued by the District Collector of Customs. Further investigation showed that Moonglow is non-existent. Consequently, Mr, Gabisi and Mr. Yto were charged with and convicted for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 which makes it unlawful among others, for public officers to cause any undue Injury to any party, including the Government. In the discharge of official functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. In their motion for reconsideration, the accused alleged that the decision was erroneous because the crime was not consummated but was only at an attempted stage, and that in fact the Government did not suffer any undue injury. Assuming that the attempted or frustrated stage of the violation charged is not punishable, may the accused be nevertheless convicted for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code under the facts of the case? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

Yes, both are liable for attempted estafa thru falsification of commercial documents, a complex crime. They tried to defraud the Government with the use of false commercial and public documents. Damage is not necessary.

Bar Exam Question (1997)

Estafa; Falsification of Commercial Documents (1997)

The accused opened a saving account with Bank A with an initial deposit of P2,000.00. A few days later, he deposited in the savings account a Bank B check for P 10,000.00 drawn and endorsed purportedly by C. Ten days later, he withdrew P 10,000.00 from his savings account. C complained to Bank B when the check was deducted from his account. Two days thereafter, the accused deposited another Bank B check of P 10,000.00 signed and endorsed allegedly by C. A week later, the accused went to Bank A to withdraw P10,000.00. While withdrawing the amount, he was arrested. Convicted under two informations of estafa and attempted estafa both through falsification of commercial documents, he set up the defenses that, except for the showing that the signature of C had been forged, no further evidence was presented to establish (a) that he was the forger of the
signature of C nor (b), that as to the second charge C suffered any damage. Rule on the defense.

Suggested Answer:

The defense is not tenable; (a) the possessor of a falsified document is presumed to be the author of the falsification (People vs. Sendaydtego, 81 SCRA 120; Koh Tiek vs. People, et al, Dec. 21, 1990) ; (b) In estafa, a mere disturbance of property rights, even if temporary, would be sufficient to, cause damage. Moreover, in a crime of falsification of a commercial document, damage or intent to cause damage is not necessary because the principal thing punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth as therein solemnly proclaimed. 

Bar Exam Question (2002)

Estafa; Defense of Ownership (2002) 

A sold a washing machine to B on credit, with the understanding that B could return the appliance within two weeks if, after testing the same, B decided not to buy it. Two weeks lapsed without B returning the appliance. A found out that B had sold the washing machine to a third party- Is B liable for estafa? Why? 

Suggested Answer:

No, B is not liable for estafa because he is not just an entrustee of the washing machine which he sold; he is the owner thereof by virtue of the sale of the washing machine to him. The sale being on credit, B as buyer is only liable for the unpaid price of the washing machine; his obligation is only a civil obligation. There is no felonious misappropriation that could constitute estafa.

Bar Exam Question (1998)

Estafa; Swindling (1998)

Divina, is the owner of a 500-square meter residential lot in Makati City covered by TCT No. 1998. As her son needed money for his trip abroad, Divina mortgaged her lot to her neighbor Dino for P1,000,000. Later Divina sold the same lot to Angel for P2,000,000. In the Deed of Sale, she expressly stated that the property is free from any lien or encumbrance. What crime, if any, did Divina commit?

Suggested Answer:

Divina committed estafa or swindling under Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code because, knowing that the real property being sold is encumbered, she still made a misrepresentation in the Deed of Sale that the same is free from any lien or encumbrance. There is thus a deceit or fraud causing damage to the buyer of the lot.


  1. What is the penalty for the complex crime of estafa?