How to file an estafa case

Estafa is the legal term for the criminal offense of swindling. It is when someone represents themselves as someone else or as someone who says they can do things they cannot, with such fraud resulting in the victim suffering damages.

Damages may refer to the loss of money, personal property or valuables as a result of the deceit. Together with fraud, these are the elements that have to be present for a case to qualify asestafa.

Note that estafa is different from theft. With theft, the offender has taken material possession of a property. With estafa, the offender has taken both material and juridical possession of a property by means of a contract or agreement.

How estafa is committed

Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code states that estafa may be committed through:

    1. Unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence:
      1. Altering the quality, quantity, and substance of the subject matter in a contract;
      2. Misappropriating or converting someone else’s money, goods, or any other personal property; or denying these from them;
      3. Taking advantage of a signature in blank
    2. Deceit or fraudulent acts:
      1. Using a fictitious identity to deceive another;
      2. Altering quality, fineness or weight of anything pertaining to art or business;
      3. Issuing unfunded or postdated checks;
      4. Availing of services from hotels, restaurants, inns, etc. without paying for them
    3. Fraudulent means:
      1. Inducing another, through deceit, to sign any document;
      2. Resorting to fraudulent practice to ensure success in a gambling game;
      3. Removing, concealing or destroying – in whole or in part – any court record, office files, document, or any other papers.

Filing an estafa case

Estafa is considered a criminal case, which means a wrongdoer can be penalized with fines and jail time. You will need a lawyer if you feel that you are the victim of estafa. Prior to filing the case, your lawyer will first determine if filing it is justified. They will also assist you in gathering evidence.

The next step is the actual filing of a complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) or Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (OPP) where the case was committed. Your lawyer will present the details of the incident, including your evidence, personal information, and information on the offender.

The OCP or OPP will then conduct a thorough investigation of the matter to decide if there is substantial evidence to conclude whether or not a crime has been committed. Note that the offender may choose to file a counter-affidavit to argue against your claim, to which you may respond with a reply affidavit.

If there is sufficient ground for your case, it will then be brought to court. While there are no guarantees as to the length of time that it will take to conclude a case, you can take heart in the fact that criminal cases in general are being resolved significantly faster these days since the Supreme Court’s implementation of its Revised Guidelines of Continuous Trial in Criminal Cases in September of 2017.


The skilled and experienced attorneys at Duran & Duran-Schulze look forward to helping you build and file a proper estafa case. Email [email protected] or call (+632) 478 5826 today.

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