Sexy student selfies a risky form of debt collateral

By Sun Jingyan Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/19 17:53:01

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Female Chinese college students submitting nude selfies of themselves in exchange for cash from shady loan sharks has become such a proliferate problem in China that the topic has recently made headlines. According to reports, girls who wish to borrow money from some online lending platforms must now provide as collateral a naked pic while holding their ID card. Young borrowers who fail to repay their debt risk having their pics uploaded online and sent to their parents.

After news of this shameful form of collateral went viral on the interwebs, Xinhua News Agency conducted an investigation. Visiting university campuses around China, they found numerous advertisements from such unauthorized lending agencies. Many nude pics of borrowers who failed to meet the terms of their illicit loans can already be found online, proving that these loan sharks mean serious business.

As a female college student myself, I can attest that today's students lack self-responsibility when it comes to personal finances and tend not to have much awareness of the world of high-interest loans. Especially among female students, my peers seem to be utterly ignorant about the dire consequences of debt. All they know is how to spend spend spend. Those who habitually borrow from friends, family and even agencies often accumulate so much interest that they then have to borrow from other sources just to pay off their previous loans. It's a vicious cycle that can affect their whole life.

According to Chutian Metropolis Daily, one Chinese college student recently took out a loan from an agency on an installment plan to buy an iPhone 6, which resulted in a 700,000 yuan ($106,535) debt after failing to make his high-interest payments. He eventually had to drop out from school to hide from the debt collectors. Another college student in Henan Province was forced to borrow from loan sharks to pay off his football gambling bookies. After accumulating 600,000 yuan in debt, he decided to jump to his death.

In this era of China's economic after-glow, many college students have an insatiable impulse to purchase and are absolutely obsessed with shopping. University campus life, which is quite competitive and pushes students to constantly one-up each other with scores as well as the latest trends, seems to nurture this need to always have the latest gadgets and clothing. Many Chinese students have their parents to fall back on financially, but due to their lack of fixed-incomes, China recently raised the threshold for college students to apply for credit cards To take advantage of this new market, loan sharks quickly moved in.

From the perspective of these loan sharks, they are willing to lend to college students because of the high demand for such loans. Since their identities and family backgrounds are all on full display on social media, loan sharks see students as extremely easy to deal with should they try to default on their payments.

Holding their nude selfies for ransom as a form of debt collection may sound dastardly, but in my opinion it's actually quite reasonable. These girls know full well what they are getting themselves into when they submit their explicit selfies to loan sharks. I daresay that knowing your nude photos could be exposed to the world is probably the most incentivizing method of debt collecting.

However, charging high interest rates is illegal in China and not financially or legally protected by the government. Any student entering into a pact with these unlawful agencies is committing a crime and therefore have no recourse should the loan sharks choose to upload their pics online.

Sadly, now that Chinese high school students and millennials have also developed a reputation for being spoiled and spendthrift, it's only a matter of time before some unscrupulous loan sharks start to target China's high schools. Knowing the propensity smartphone-wielding teens have for taking selfies, we can't expect them to use the best judgment. What needs to change, then, is Chinese society's attitudes about consumption and materialism before our nation becomes debt-ridden and selfie-scandalous.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TwoCents, Metro Shanghai

blog comments powered by Disqus