Keiichi Hibari/Eye Em/Getty Images

Keiichi Hibari/Eye Em/Getty Images

In financial transactions that more closely resemble a hostage-taking, desperate college women in China are reportedly turning over naked pictures as collateral for their loans.

The students are drawn to online peer-to-peer lending platforms to facilitate the loans — and internet chat rooms to negotiate the terms – because it’s hard to get traditional financing in China to pay for tuition, Quartz reported last week.

During negotiations, some lenders demand the women take a naked picture of themselves holding their ID to the camera. If they fail to repay their debts, the lenders — or loan sharks, as a number of media outlets have called them — may put these pictures on the internet, or worse, send them to family members.

One woman’s story

Chinese media wrote of the practice last week after a university student went to police seeking help.

The woman apparently borrowed the equivalent of about $76 in February from a P2P lender at a weekly interest rate of 30%, according to the Nandu Daily. Unable to repay her loan, the woman’s debt rose to more than $8,400.

That’s when the loan shark apparently threatened to post her naked photos online. The lender posted a picture of the woman in a chat group and wrote, “If you don’t pay by the end of this month, the pic will go public,” according to Shanghaist.com.

These threats make debt collection practices in the United States look positively pleasant in comparison.

Not unusual

But as it turns out, demanding naked pictures as collateral is not only exploitive, it’s illegal in China. And yet this appears to be a fairly common practice.

“Naked IOUs started long ago,” one person told Nandu Daily. “Not only university students, but many others also borrowed money with nude pictures.”

What’s more, the 30% interest rate the woman was charged also appears to be illegal. So, not only was the woman subjected to potential embarrassment, she got a terrible deal to boot.

I suppose there are some borrowers who feel grateful just to get the money because it is so hard to obtain traditional loans, but this can’t be an easy decision.

Would you ever consider snapping a naked selfie as a condition of getting a loan?