Desperate times call for desperate measures. Some down on their luck are turning to a new way to get thousands of dollars in quick cash: online pawning.
There are plenty of brick-and-mortar pawnshops across North Texas, some of which charge as much as 20 percent interest for loans.
But Pawngo.com, which just launched June 7, is taking off with the draw of much lower interest rates.
"First of all, there's nowhere you can get $100,000 in less than 24 hours," said Kevin Leland, of Pawngo.
Customers have sent in everything from a yellow diamond wedding ring to a high-end watches worth thousands such as diamond pave Ebels, Breitling Windriders and Cartier Roadsters.
"It's a totally different audience than your typical brick-and-mortar store," Leland said. "We're seeing these are middle- to high-income people. About 15 percent of our customers earn over $100,000."
The company only deals in high-end goods and luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton bags and name watches and jewels that can be resold.
Mark Lancaster, of Dallas, mailed in a stainless and gold Rolex worth about $3,800 for a $1,000 loan. He said he had never pawned anything before but needed the money to pay bills.
"Three days later, I had the money in my account," he said. "When you need the money to make yourself survive and keep going, you do things you wouldn't think you'd have to do."
He is paying 6 percent interest per month -- or $60 per month.
Lancaster said he's not sure he will buy the Rolex back or just let it go because he purchased a new one that looks just like it.
The online lender makes it easy to sign up and then ship valuables at no cost.
"They're willing to send in something as precious as their mother's wedding ring or Rolex watch passed down generations, and they really need money quickly," Leland said.
The company also straight-out buys items.
One customer got $150 for a photograph autographed by Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. Another sold boxes of "Playboy" from 1979.
But Greg Morse, CEO of Fort Worth's Worthington Bank, said he's skeptical.
"I would be concerned if I inherited a ring from my grandmother, and I shipped them that diamond ring, and how do I know I'm getting that same diamond back?" he said. "They could replace with lesser-quality diamond, cubic zirconia."
Pawngo said it keeps all its goods in secure vaults with people who have to press in their fingerprint to gain access to the room.
The company said it competes with banks on loans, but Morse said Pawngo's 3 percent to 6 percent monthly interest rate is high.
"I think that's a lot of money to pay for a turnaround," Morse said.
He said customers can get a $2,000 loan from a bank at 10 percent per year rather than month-to-month interest rates. But there's criteria.
"They need to pay their loans on time, bills on time, rent on time, and mortgage on time," Morse said.
Pawngo says its customers, on average, do three-month loans.
The company is working on another website called The Vault where it will sell what customers don't come back for.