Demandahan: Going after a swindler

Posted at 03/07/2013 4:56 PM | Updated as of 03/20/2013 4:15 PM
Anthony Taberna interviews Nestor, a victim of estafa.

"The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool." ― Stephen King

Anthony Taberna seeks legal help for a victim of estafa who lost over P700,000 to a swindler.

Trust is not always given so easily, and when it is, it is a great compliment to the receiver. Hence, it is a pity that some people would still abuse the trust that is given to them.

"Nestor" was an overseas Filipino worker who chose to retire in the Philippines after three decades of living and working in the United States of America. At 60 years old, all that he wanted was to rest in his home country.

Unfortunately, his comfortable retirement was disrupted when he was deceived by someone he genuinely wanted to help out.

In an act of compassion, Nestor bought a mobile phone and other expensive gadgets from a woman named "Pamela Binatay" after she told him that her child was suffering from cancer.

At the time, Nestor was planning to put up a recording studio; he thought Binatay could supply him with the necessary equipment.

Six months after their transaction, Nestor has yet to receive the equipment he purchased. Binatay kept on making excuses until Nestor found out online about her modus operandi.

Binatay promised to return his money but she did not show up when they set up a meeting.

Nestor lost approximately P700,000 in his transaction with Binatay.

What is estafa and its circumstances?

According to Atty. Hans Santos, estafa or swindling is committed when:

(1) a person defrauds another person through false representation;
(2) the offended party must have believed the representation;
(3) the false representation is committed prior to or simultaneous with the transaction; and
(4) there is damage or prejudice to the property.

Santos advised Nestor to file one count of estafa per transaction against Pamela.

If Pamela is proven guilty, she could serve 20 years in prison. According to the first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code:

“Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.”

To at least recover the value of his money, Nestor could include an attachment of Pamela's properties in his case. If he wins the case, he will be awarded with the properties as payment for civil damages.

Word of caution

Many of us have become victims of different modi operandi. So it is necessary to be extra careful, Santos said.

"If it's too good to be true, chances are, it really is untrue."

Meanwhile, Airene Pamela Samson, also known as Pamela Binatay, is still at large. Demandahan found out that warrants from different parts of Metro Manila have been issued for her arrest.

Aired on February 21, 2013