Internet loan sharks in China have started demanding nudes from female college students desperate for financial aid to ensure that they get their money back, according to the Associated Press.
Private lenders are requiring young females who borrow money to send nude photos of themselves along with copies of their ID cards, according to the local Chinese press. The photos will be made public if they’re late on their payments.
A borrower recounted to a local newspaper that she initially borrowed 500 yuan ($76) from an online loan provider with a weekly interest rate of 30 percent. She racked up to 55,000 yuan ($8,347) debt after constantly taking out new loans to pay off old ones. This was when the lender demanded a nude photo from her as collateral.
However, the scheme was recently outed after a reporter posed as a potential client and was able to get evidence of loan sharks demanding nude photos via a group chat popular amongst lenders. Additionally, the reporter found that loan shark also demanded personal info from borrowers like home addresses, family names, and contact information of friends.
Using nude photos to blackmail delinquent borrowers is not the only practice loan sharks use to ensure they get repaid. Han Chuanhua, a bankruptcy lawyer in Beijing told the Financial Times that one of his clients had their legs broken by thugs hired by lenders.
“If they borrow from banks there is no threat to personal safety. But if they borrowed from private lenders, especially high-interest lenders, it can happen.” Han said. “If they can’t repay sometimes the high-interest lender sends people to their homes. Mostly they threaten, but sometimes they take action. These types of people don’t go through legal channels.”
Fortunately, since the story was published, the loan shark has put a stop to the scheme.