The crime of estafa

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I invested in a networking business. I gave money to the person who recruited me to invest it in this business. Unfortunately, I found out that only half of my money was invested when it was clear from the start that all would be remitted for investment. Now, the recruiter is saying that he will not return the rest of my money because he allotted it to his personal expenses, which include transportation and food expenses, in going to the office of the networking business. I want to file a criminal case because I feel being cheated by the recruiter?

Dear Rodel,
The criminal case that can be filed against the recruiter is estafa covered under Article 315 paragraph 4 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Under the said provision of law, a crime of estafa may be committed by means of 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.

The accused for estafa shall only be convicted if you are able to prove, through submission of documents or affidavits from witnesses, the presence of the following elements: 1) that personal property is received in trust, on commission, for administration or under any other circumstance involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though the obligation is guaranteed by a bond;

(2) that there is conversion or diversion of such property by the person who has so received it or a denial on his part that he received it;

(3) that such conversion, diversion or denial is to the injury of another and

(4) that there be demand for the return of the property (Criteta Chua-Bruce v. CA, G.R. No. 109595, April 27, 2000).

Thus, from your evidence, you must prove, among others, that all the money which you gave to the recruiter was intended to be remitted as investment since he is alleging that part of that money was used for his personal expenses in going to the networking business office.

The crime of estafa is a continuing or transitory offense which may be prosecuted at the place where any of the essential elements of the crime took place. One of the essential elements of estafa is damage or prejudice to the offended party (Solemnidad Buaya v. Hon. Wenceslao Polo,, G.R. L-75079, January 26, 1989). Thus, the complaint for estafa may be filed at the place where you gave the money to the recruiter for the purpose of investing to the networking business or where you are residing.

We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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1 Comment

  1. Atty. Roslee M. Formoso on

    Money delivered to be invested, ones used is not estafa. Element of personal appropriation is not present, he invested half of the money and other half is what you call processing or administration expenses for investment. In the event that he can no longer return the money because of business reverses then there is no estafa but bad business.

    However, business of networking has been declared illegal, “Pyramid Scam”.