DESPERATE female students in China are being forced to send loan sharks nude photographs, which will be posted online if they fail to repay high-interest loans.
According to Guangzhou-based newspaper, Southern Metropolis Daily, some students have been forced to seek police help after receiving threats of sexual violence or having their nude photos published online.
The report mentions a student known as Li Li, who borrowed 500 yuan (US$75.84) at a weekly interest rate of 30 percent from a person she came across via Jiedaibao, an anonymous social network-based peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform.
She took another loan from the same person at the same rate when she was unable to pay her debt, amassing a debt of 55,000 yuan (US$8,342). She again asked for another loan, but this time the lender would only give her one if she provided a nude photo of herself holding her identification card.
When Li Li could not repay her debts a third time, the lender threatened to mail the photograph to her family and post it online as well.
Strict regulations and limited availability of state-funded loans make it difficult for students in China to secure funding for their studies if they cannot already afford it. Loan sharks take advantage of these students by setting up businesses online, but often charge exorbitant interest rates.
When Chinese news site Sixth Tone posed as a potential student customer and made inquiries through popular microblogging platform Weibo, one loan shark agreed to lend 3,000 yuan (US$455) but demanded personal details, including a nude photo, contact details of relatives and classmates, the student’s university, student number, and home address.
However, the lender did not ask for any verification on how the potential lender would repay the loan.
Fu Jian, a lawyer from the Henan province in central China, told Sixth Tone that nearly all “lending platforms” host a “large number of middlemen [loan sharks] in different cities to seduce students to borrow money”.
He said: “The online lending industry is like a food chain with some huge financial groups on the top, followed by the platforms, then the middlemen. Students, sadly, are just the prey.”
Police have not made any comment on the case, reports China Daily. A spokesperson for Jiedaibao, Bo Ling, told Sixth Tone it will be investigating Li Li’s case independently.