|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Dream shopping jobs abroad turn into expensive nightmare
Yomiuri Weekly 3/4 By Geoff Botting
It's an enticing offer.
"Why not work part-time by shopping in Europe?" reads the ad in a job recruitment magazine.
Agencies that place ads like this are looking for people to buy large amounts of high-end designer brand products in Europe and then bring them back to Japan.
The people who respond, usually young housewives and office workers, can receive anywhere from 7,000 to 15,000 yen a day for their efforts.
In addition, the agencies cover the entire cost of air tickets, hotels, transportation and travel insurance.
If you guessed this deal sounds too good to be true, you're right.
Yomiuri Weekly says many of the agencies have scammed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of their part-timers.
The first problem with these all-expenses-paid shopping extravaganzas is they involve smuggling.
Japanese returning home from overseas are allowed to bring in no more than three items with a combined value of no more than 300,000 yen.
Anything over that is considered an imported article subject to a high duty.
They are constantly
Junko Sasaki(not her real name), 26, found that out the hard way.
When she went to a job interview placed by the appropriately named "Dream Catch" agency, she expressed concern about having to use her own credit card to make the required purchases.
No problem, said the glamorous-looking woman who conducted the interview.
The agency, she said, would refund every last yen charged to the card.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Comprehensive Consumer-Center, however, told Sasaki a different story.
"The purchases will be made in your name so you are the one responsible if any problems occur," a counselor said.
But when she informed Dream Catch she wanted to bail out of the scheme, they told her it was too late, as the air tickets and hotel had already been paid for.
So it was with a heavy heart that Sasaki headed off for Paris last October on her shopping spree.
She returned to Japan seven days later with 37 items, including Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags and accessories, worth a total of around 1.6 million yen.
The goods were all handed over to a Dream Catch representative.
Yet the agency's refund never came, Yomiuri Weekly, meanwhile, managed to obtain official documents showing that Sasaki was not alone.
The by-now-defunct agency had scammed 107 part-timers to the tune of 180 million yen by not refunding the overseas purchases.
The total number of victims, however, is probably much, much higher --- agencies in the Kanto region alone are believed to number over 100.