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What is estafa?

Is estafa equivalent to swindling? How can we avoid it?
By Peter Imbong |

handcuffsEstafa is the legal term used to describe certain forms of swindling. Thus, a person can be considered a swindler for committing a form of estafa. However, a person can also be a swindler by committing other acts that are not necessarily estafa, according to Atty. James Imbong of the Imbong, Imbong and Imbong Law Firm.



For swindling to be called estafa under the law, Imbong says it must satisfy two elements: (1) there is an element of deceit or fraud used by the offender against the victim; and (2) as a result of the deceit, the victim suffered some form of damage or injury.


This may mean loss of money, property, or the victim was cheated of something that was promised to him. Estafa is a punishable crime under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.



Kinds of estafa

1. Estafa through unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence: Altering anything of value that you are required to deliver or produce, misappropriating or converting personal property, which you are obliged to deliver.

2. Estafa through false pretenses: Using a fictitious name; pretending to possess power, influence, credit, false transactions; pretending to have bribed any government employee; issuing a check with insufficient funds.  

3. Estafa through fraud: Encouraging someone to sign a document through deceitful means; cheating in a gambling game; removing, concealing or destroying court records, office files, documents.

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