Female students in China are being blackmailed into sending nude photos as collateral to loansharks, and threatened with making the photos public if their payments are not made on time, the Associated Press reports.
Private lenders in the city of Guangzhou are allegedly asking cash-strapped young women for nude pics and copies of their ID cards as a guarantee against defaulting on loans, local news said.
One borrower told state-run Southern Metropolis Daily that she took out an initial loan online of 500 yuan (£54). But the extortionate interest rate of 30 per cent a week forced her to continue taking out new loans to pay off the old ones, until she was 55,000 yuan (£5,900) in debt - at which point her provider demanded a nude photo before he'd give her any more money.
The student said that the same situation had happened to many of her female classmates, and they were afraid to speak up about it.
A reporter for Southern Metropolis Daily posed as a client online, joining chat groups frequented by lenders. The paper found evidence of the sharks not only demanding photos, but other personal details such as phone numbers, addresses, parents' and friends' names, ID and student registrations, information which they also threatened to make public in the event of a default.
Since the story was published, many of the loan sharks' online presence disappeared. The matter has been referred to police.