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Suit filed over dating, property scam

Kyodo, Staff Report

Twelve victims of dating scams involving investments in luxury apartments filed a group suit Wednesday with the Tokyo District Court, demanding ¥200 million in total damages from real estate agencies and mortgage lenders.

According to the lawsuit filed jointly by 10 women and two men in their 30s and 40s, all of the group’s members became acquainted with their “partners” via online dating sites. After a few dates, it was strongly recommended that they take out loans and buy apartment units that were on the market for an average price of about ¥28 million each.

The plaintiffs, one of whom bought two condominium units, claim they all became estranged from their dates soon after the purchases.

The victims’ former partners are employees of five different real estate agencies in Tokyo. When they were dating, they withheld their job titles and did not clearly explain the reasons for recommending certain properties, according to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs claimed the agents took advantage of relationships and lured them into purchasing overpriced apartments with little prospect of a return on their investment.

The group is also seeking compensation from three financial institutions, claiming they should take responsibility for approving loan applications without examining them properly.

According to the National Consumer Affairs Center, the number of dating scams involving condo purchases is on the rise.

The center received 42 complaints or requests for consultations from victims of this type of scam in 2013, up from just two in fiscal 2009 and 26 in 2012. The center also said that when many of the cases come to light, it’s too late to rectify the situation, noting that victims are deceived into thinking they are in authentic relationships and tend to cling to false promises of marriage.

Prompted by an upsurge in similar cases across the country, the center issued a warning on its website in January.

The average age of victims who contacted the center was 35.1 years. The center also said more women have been victimized.

The center’s data show that the average amount of loss suffered by condo-related dating scams exceeds ¥30 million, substantially higher than that suffered by victims of other kinds of dating scams.