• Kyodo

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Three men were arrested Sunday on suspicion of defrauding an elderly Hokkaido woman out of more than ¥5 million by talking her into unnecessary house repairs starting in 2004, police said.

Among those arrested was Masanori Komatsu, 29, former Hokkaido branch chief of a Tokyo-based housing repair company called Cats, the police said.

The immediate charge against the three is over a case in January 2008 in which they allegedly conspired to defraud the 77-year-old woman, who lives alone in Monbetsu, with house-repair work that was totally unnecessary.

They allegedly coerced her into signing a contract for ¥950,000 to “reinforce the basement” of her house after telling her, “Unless it is repaired, your house will collapse,” according to the police.

All three have denied the fraud charge, telling police they never lied to the woman when she signed the deal, the police said.

Starting in 2004, the woman paid a total of ¥5.5 million to Cats for nine repair contracts. One of her acquaintances found out what was going on and notified police.

Shady business contracts targeting the elderly are rampant across the country, and house repairs is a typical method, along with selling them worthless items, such as health care goods whose effects are falsified.

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