A group of Japanese singles filed a lawsuit against real estate agents which they accused of faking romantic interest so they will be persuaded to purchase properties from them. The twelve plaintiffs, two men and ten women, are all in their early 30s to 40s.
The victims sued 14 companies, real estate firms, and loan companies, and are seeking 200 million yen (approx. US$1.95 million) in damages. According to the lawyers, plaintiffs met the agents via online dating sites, and once romance ensued, the accused would encourage and talk the victims into buying properties, such as a condominium averaging 26 million yen ($254,000). As soon as the contracts had been signed and the deal completed, the agent would bail out of the relationship.
Shinichi Hirasawa, a lawyer for one of the victims, said the properties were bought as the agents “took advantage of the romantic feelings” of the victim. One of the plaintiffs was even persuaded to buy three properties. He added that, “This is a flagrant scheme because the victims were made to purchase the real estate, sometimes at prices 30 to 40 percent above the market rate.” A recent study on trends on marrying in Japan showed that many Japanese, mostly women, become desperate to tie the knot when they reach their late 30s. Cases of deception such as this are becoming more common and increasing as the years go by, with 42 reported victims in 2013 from only 26 reported cases in 2012.
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