Other Deceits

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If you were convinced by an agent to invest your money with a certain company but the agent eventually invested it with another company instead, is a crime committed? This may be considered as “other deceits” under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code. Maria, an agent of PhilAm convinced Josefina to avail of an insurance package. Maria presented her ID from PhiAm proving that she was really an agent of said company. Maria subsequently offered Josefina an investment package where it would earn a 20% and the earnings from this investment can be channelled and may be used to pay her insurance premium with PhilAm. Josefina was issued receipts for her payments but her premiums for her insurance were not paid. Later, Josefina received a letter from Philippine Money Investment Asset Management (PMIAM) thanking her for her investment with them. This prompted Josefina to confront Maria and demand a full refund since she intended to invest with PhilAm and not with another company. When she Maria failed to return the money, she was charged with estafa and found guilty by the trial court under Article 315 par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code. Maria appealed the convicted claiming that there was no estafa because she acted in good faith since she in fact invested the money of Josefina with another company just not with PhilAm.

Conviction Modified

Article 315 par. 2 (a) says that Swindling (estafa) is committed “2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: (a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.” Maria did not employ “fictitious name, or falsely pretending to posses power…” in convincing Josefina to part with her money since she was a legitimate agent of PhilAm and even PMIAM. Her acts do not also fall under “other similar deceits” since this phrase refers to deceits similar to those enumerated before it in accordance with the principle of ejusdem generis. Maria’s acts fall under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code “other deceits” instead. Maria, “in soliciting private complainant’s money, falsely represented that it would be invested in Philam Life and that its proceeds would be used to pay for private complainant’s insurance premiums. This false representation is what induced private complainant to part with her funds and disregard the payment of her insurance premiums. Since petitioner deviated from what was originally agreed upon by placing the investment in another company, private complainant’s insurance policies lapsed.” (G.R. No. 207711, July 02, 2018) The conviction under another article other than that charged is justified because “an accused may be convicted of an offense proved provided it is included in the charge or of an offense charged which is included in that which is proved. In the case at bar, the petitioner was convicted of the crime falling under “Other deceits” which is necessarily included in the crime of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) considering that the elements of deceit and damage also constitute the former. Hence, the petitioner’s right to be properly informed of the accusation against her was never violated.” The Court even went on to say: “In the present case, the crime of other deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code is necessarily included in the crime of estafa by means of deceit under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, petitioner may be convicted of other deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code.”

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