Article 315, paragraph 2(d), of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 4885 penalizes estafa when committed as follows:
2. By means of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:
d) By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or payee or holder that said check has been dishonored for lack or insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.
By settled jurisprudence, the elements of the crime of estafa, as defined in the above quoted provision of law, are as follows: (1) the offender has postdated or issued a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time of the postdating or issuance; (2) at the time of postdating or issuance of said check, the offender has no funds in the bank or the funds deposited are not sufficient to cover the amount of the check; and (3) the payee has been defrauded. Damage and deceit are essential elements of the offense and must be established with satisfactory proof to warrant conviction, while the false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to, or simultaneous with, the issuance of the bad check. The drawer of the dishonored check is given three days from receipt of the notice of dishonor to cover the amount of the check, otherwise, a prima facie presumption of deceit arises.
Further it is settled that it is criminal fraud or deceit in the issuance of a check which is made punishable under the Revised Penal Code, and not the nonpayment of a debt. Deceit is the false representation of a matter of fact whether by words or conduct by false or misleading allegations or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed which deceives or is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury. Concealment which the law denotes as fraudulent implies a purpose or design to hide facts which the other party ought to have. The postdating or issuing of a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank or his funds deposited therein are not sufficient to cover the amount of the check is a false pretense or a fraudulent act.
The receipt by the drawer of the notice of dishonor is not an element of the offense. The presumption only dispenses with the presentation of evidence of deceit if such notification is received and the drawer of the check failed to deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of the notice of dishonor of the check. The presumption indulged in by law does not preclude the presentation of other evidence to prove deceit.
The absence of proof as to receipt of the written notice of dishonor notwithstanding, the evidence shows that petitioner had actual notice of the dishonor of the check because he was verbally notified by the respondent and notice whether written or verbal was a surplusage and totally unnecessary considering that almost two (2) months before the issuance of the check, petitioners current account was already closed. Under these circumstances, the notice of dishonor would have served no useful purpose as no deposit could be made in a closed bank account. (Lopez vs. People, GR No. 166810, 26 June 2008)