BEIJING (AP) — Web-based loan sharks in China have found an unconventional way of guaranteeing loans: demanding naked photos from cash-strapped female college students who want to borrow money.
The state-run Southern Metropolis Daily reported this week that private lenders are asking the young women to send nude photos of themselves as a form of collateral, along with copies of their ID cards. They warn that the photos will be made public if payments are not made on time.
One of the borrowers told the newspaper that she first borrowed 500 yuan ($76) from an online loan provider with a weekly interest rate of 30 percent. She kept taking out new loans to pay off old ones, and her debt snowballed to 55,000 yuan ($8,347) when the lender demanded a nude photo of her as a guarantee for new loans.
She told the newspaper that many of her female classmates had been swept into the scheme but were unwilling to speak up.
The woman was planning to report the incident to police, the newspaper said.
Posing as a potential client, a reporter for the newspaper was able to get evidence of loan sharks demanding naked photos by joining online chat groups frequented by lenders. Loan sharks also demanded personal information from borrowers, including phone numbers, ID numbers, home addresses, parents' names, contacts for roommates and student registration information, which the lenders threatened to make public should the borrower default, the report said.
After the story was published, loan sharks suspended the practice, the newspaper reported in a follow-up article.