Law and Definition of Estafa by Misappropriation
In the Philippines, numerous cases involving the crime of estafa are being filed in Philippine courts. Due to the upsurge of estafa-related cases, the Philippines is replete with jurisprudence discussing and elucidating the crime of estafa. Laws have been enacted such as Republic Act No. 10951, increasing the amount or value of property and damage on which the penalty is based, and the fines imposed under the Revised Penal Code.
There are different ways of committing estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (“RPC”). Estafa is committed a) with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence; b) by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts; and c) through fraudulent means.
This article tackles about simple estafa under Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC, estafa committed with abuse of confidence.
Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC provides, to wit:
(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.
Under this form of estafa, there are also three ways of committing simple estafa under Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC, namely, a) by misappropriating the thing received; b) by converting the thing received; and c) by denying that the thing was received.
The Supreme Court elucidated the crime of simple estafa under Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC in the case of Remo, et al. vs. SOJ Devanadera, et al., G.R. No. 192925, 09 December 2016. The Court said that any person who causes pecuniary damage upon another through any of the acts of abuse of confidence or of deceit, as enumerated in Article 315 of the RPC, commits the crime of estafa or swindling. One of such acts of abuse of confidence is that specified in Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC.
Elements of Estafa under Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC
This kind of estafa has the following elements:
- 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;
- That there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt;
- That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and
- That there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender.
The Concept of Juridical Possession
In Remo, et al. vs. SOJ Devanadera, the Supreme Court had this to say:
“The first element is absent in this case since petitioners did not receive any of the funds of BATELEC II as such. While petitioners, as directors of BATELEC II, may be said to be vested with control over how the cooperative spends its funds, the same cannot be considered as receipt and possession of such funds under Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC. This is so because petitioners—even in their capacities as directors of BATELEC—do not acquire juridical possession of the funds of the cooperative.”
Juridical possession is defined as the type of possession that is acquired by the transferee of a thing when he receives the same under the circumstances mentioned in Article 315(1)(b) of the RPC. When juridical possession is acquired, the transferee obtains such right over the thing that he can set up even against its owner.
What does misappropriation or conversion mean?
The terms misappropriation or conversion connotes “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.”
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