I decided to bring it up in a Google Hangout with Google's John Mueller a couple days ago and you can see his response to my question starting at about 14 minutes 33 seconds. I asked if something new was released and you really need to listen to how John responds carefully including his facial expressions.
Here it is:
My impression is that Google did indeed release something new around this, that they are thinking if they want to confirm or not. I did email Google asking if they can go on record if there was anything on this but they refused to comment on the topic.
I'd honestly be surprised if Google did not release something around this, specifically targeting these tactics.
Whether Google calls it Sandbox 2.0 or PayDay Loan or something else, I do not know. Or I can be completely wrong but that is my gut feeling.
Forum discussion at Google+.