Loansharks have been arrested in China after asking students to give them naked videos and photos of themselves as collateral on the money they borrowed.
The loansharks then threatened to post the incriminating photos and videos online if the money was not repaid. They targeted cash-strapped college students and charged them exorbitant interest.
The public security bureau in Shenzhen recently busted a syndicate which at its peak had ripped off more than 300 victims across the nation. Most were college students who spent the borrowed money on gambling, electronic gadgets and cosmetics. One woman reportedly ended up owing more than one million yuan (US$147,200).
Like many others, she was asked to send a video to members of the syndicate where she stood stark naked before the camera and promised to pay back the money or borrow more to pay the interest on the first loan. This was a prerequisite for getting money after losing all her savings on illegal betting, which she dared not tell her parents about.
Police found a dozen such videos stored on the cellphone of the mastermind of the syndicate. Police said loansharks typically goad students with small loans of only a few thousand yuan with loan periods as short as a few days. Yet punitive interest of 500 yuan or higher per hour is charged for any overdue loan, noted in the contracts debtors sign.
China’s banking watchdog has waged crackdowns on illegal lending, yet there have been reports of campus bullying and even suicides by students as disputes erupted between debtors and loansharks.