Left with the keys, the debt… but no love

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A group of broken-hearted and out-of-pocket Japanese singles have launched legal action this week against real estate agents they claimed seduced them – literally – into buying property.

The 12 individuals, all aged in their 30s or early 40s, filed a lawsuit alleging that real estate agents and loan companies had struck up relationships with them on singles dating sites, then used their genuine blossoming feelings of love against them by selling them overpriced condominiums.

According to their lawyers, the plaintiffs, who are seeking 200 million yen in compensation, were often under the impression that they were well on the way to marrying the unscrupulous defrauders.

However, they were destined to be jilted lovers. The romance reportedly evaporated immediately after the property purchases, leaving the new property owners in a relationship with their bank, rather than the lover they had initially been courted by.

Though ten of the twelve victims were women, it appears that single Japanese men were not above being duped by the promise of the scam, with two men giving their hearts - and their wallets - away.

Indeed, some of the plaintiffs were so blinded by love that they were duped into buying a whole portfolio of property, with one plaintiff buying three condos at the behest of one of the defendants.

The average price tag was 26 million yen, with some properties being foisted on lovers cynically for up to 40% above the market rate.

Japan's National Consumer Information Center has warned romantic hopefuls to beware; this kind of alleged deception is becoming more common, with 42 reported victims in 2013, up from 26 in 2012.


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