What is Estafa? How is it Different from Theft?

What is estafa? What qualifies as estafa and what does not?

Estafa is one topic in the legal world where the scope is quite big and the range is extensive. There is a need to define it in the lawful way and it will also be beneficial if we take the layman’s understanding of the word. Let us take the latter first, estafa in its simplest explanation is a type of swindling that takes on different forms. Swindling here refers to an act of obtaining money or property by fraud or deceit. So, one can be called a swindler if one commits estafa.

What is EstafaAccording to Atty. Rainier R. Mamangun, a senior partner and a founder of a full service Philippine Law firm described estafa as 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”

In other words “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.”

It would be interesting to understand each definition by means of an example as explained by Atty. Mamangun in his website.

(1) 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

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

With the examples provided above, estafa has basically two requisite elements. These are fraud or deceit used by the offender against the victim and as a result, the victim suffered damages or injury. This means that the victim here greatly lose a certain amount of money, property or valuable things because he was cheated or deceived. Thus, to accuse a person with estafa, all requirements mentioned should be satisfied. If it does not satisfy the conditions, then it is not estafa. It may qualify as a theft or any other forms of crime. But the usual confusion is between theft and estafa. To help us better understand the difference of the two, the explanation given by Atty. Mamangun is clear enough to understand. It goes:

“Theft is explained as – 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.

Estafa on the other hand is explained as -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.”

It would be nice to determine the elements of theft as compared to estafa so the distinctions and differences are clear. This definition is taken from (U.S. v. De vera, 43 Phil. 1000). It explained that 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.

Lastly, under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, estafa is punishable by law and is classified as a criminal offense. This means you can be subject to lifetime imprisonment. Thus, the things discussed and described above should bring awareness to everyone as ignorance to the law excuses no one.




24 responses to “What is Estafa? How is it Different from Theft?”

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  3. Ace says:

    Hello, someone ask money from me that the person i dont barely know well.. because she is in different situation. And isend her some money. Without any garrante that she will pay it to me or she will showd up to me.. And now i cannot contact her mobile no. Is this a qualified theft or staffa?

    Looking forward for your reply
    Tnx,

    • Poy says:

      thats Estafa

    • Gener V. Sanchez says:

      Somene ask me for help to to find him a buyer of his stereo for amount of 7000. So we agreed I will give him a buyer but I will add 3000 as my commision. So I find him a buyer and agreed to pay the stereo system 9000 pesos plus the buyer will pay the trip fare of The Grab Car to deliver the stereo to his place and gave this person tha payment of 9000. I told this person to send to me my commision of 2000 thru money remmitance. Until this person gave me many alibi because this person already has interest not to give me my commision until now. Is This a case of estafa ? I saved all our txt messages as evidence . Could you please enlighten me . What case should I file ? In the place where he lives he was on protection by the baranggay chairman and they are planning on reversing me. Please help

  4. arcel ramos says:

    i have been into trouble regarding money.. and we already talked in barangay and we already had an agreement on how i will return the money by installment and i already gave them 1/3 of the amount.. we signed an agreement that the 2/3 of it will be given by installment until december starting this october but they send me again an invitation to barangay with the same case.. what am i goning to do against them.. thank you..

  5. Jonalyn says:

    Can a person file estafa case against a person who did not pay her dues in a direct selling business? Thank you.

  6. Babylyn Fadera says:

    Can a person file estafa casewho claimed my money without my knowledge?without my Authorization and use the money for her own benifit?and she didnt tell me that she claimed it..she intentionally did it because after i recueved the copy of the voucher i found out that its total of 34k plus and give me only 8k as my commisdions from a real estate company..pls help what should i do..thanks

  7. Eduard Aeriel N.Santos says:

    What will i do if the accused dont want to return the money.
    Or dont want to pay back worth 321k?

  8. sunshine bituin says:

    if i have credit amounting of 15000 together interest and penalties it is possible she filled estafa against me but i am willing to pay it

  9. sunshine says:

    what will we do

  10. Rea san jorge says:

    I have a credit on online loan at first i pay it on time but some of a problem i loss a job and of now im looking for a job so that i can paid it ans they telling me that they will semnd me on xourt ans they will file an stafa case against me.. But i send them a mesaage that im aaking a time to fins a job to pay them including the penalties… B

  11. She says:

    I have a online loans and i paid for partial they can a file a stafa against me?

    • marichu padernal mendoza says:

      Good day, i have a big problem i hope mabigyan ito ng linaw…nagloan ako sa online masyadong mataas ang interest..ang inaplyan ko 7,000 ang na net ko is 5390 at ibalik ko ng 14 days ng 7971 ang due date ko is fe.6,2020..ngayon po di ako nakabayad sa due date ko umabot ng 11961 sabi nila mag file sila ng estafa sa akin..so ginawa ko binayaran ko ng 5,000partial kahapon feb.18,2020..ano po bang abg dapat gawin dito..slamat po

  12. Chicco says:

    I borrowed 30k and already paid almost half of it. Then i got unemployed due to sickness and some issues, then i communicate with then that i cannot pay it yet, he threatened me with estafa, then just today, the other two friends of mine ran away from thier debt to, and he is asking me to pay for thier debt amounting to 75k, ehat should i do?

  13. Raymond Monteros says:

    Can I file a case against the co-op that they not pay the profit share and who is the responsible of that mattee

  14. Raymond Monteros says:

    Can I file a case against the co-op that they did not pay the profit share and who is the responsible of that matter

  15. Reymart says:

    Seller sold a 60sq.m.Lot he told me(buyer) he owned. Payment condition Two-gives in 2 months. I paid the 50% Dp cash we executed Deed of Sale.. He promised the Title after Downpayment..the final 50% is postdated on the end of 2nd month upon seller presented title.. But he seller fails to show title so I (buyer) cancelled the final Checke.. Then seller blocks the property from me.
    Can I sue him for ESTAFA?

  16. DeborahJade says:

    I have an online loan and they are not sec or npc registered. I owed them 4,000 pesos they said they will escalate my case to legal action. Sec 85 article 315 act

  17. DeborahJade says:

    I have an online loan and they are not sec or npc registered. I owed them 4,000 pesos they said they will escalate my case to legal action. Sec 85 article 315 act. Is it possible for them to do that???

  18. Marj says:

    I have an online loan and i am 7 days past due. I am still looking for money. Bt they told me they will file estafa if i will not pay. I am willing to pay bt i need time

  19. Shaira Garcia says:

    I buy a phone online, and i pay it in cash. the seller told me that i’ll wait for 1montb to get my order. But 1month had past, he never give me my phone. I decided to refund my money but he won’t. what will i do?

  20. judyannboragay says:

    I have online loan and they send me sms that they have the right to take legal actions. Sec 85 article 315 is this true and possible?

  21. Nikki says:

    In December 2019, a buyer and his daughter from abroad agreed that they will buy my property for 6M. Although there’s a deed of sale as a proof of my ownership of the land, The father and his daughter demanded a transfer of name to the current owner before they release their payment. Since they confirmed that they are a sure buyer I allowed them to plant from the land and act as if they already own the land. After using the land for 7 months (January to July) without any payment the father and his daughter informed me that they will no longer buy the land. Although for the last 7 months they did not experienced any flooding during the several typhoon that passed this year, they used it as an excuse not to pay the me. I showed them formal certificate as a proof from the barangay captain ang civil engineer that there is no current or future problem with the road widening but still they refused to release any payment.
    Can I sue them for estafa? If not estafa what case I can file against them. Thanks

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