Taiwanese student persuaded to amputate his legs in $1.3 million insurance scam

Taiwanese student persuaded to amputate his legs in $1.3 million insurance scamTaiwanese student persuaded to amputate his legs in $1.3 million insurance scam
via Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau
Michelle De Pacina
22 days ago
A university student in Taiwan is accused of attempting an insurance scam by freezing his own legs in dry ice so they would have to be amputated in hopes of receiving a $1.3 million insurance payout. 
Key points:
  • The 23-year-old student, identified as Zhang, was reportedly persuaded by his former high school classmate and friend named Liao, who tricked him into signing a legal note obligating him to pay about $800,000.
  • Both Zhang and Liao were arrested and charged with fraud and aiding and abetting serious injury on Jan. 17.
The details:
  • Liao, who was facing losses from cryptocurrency trading, allegedly told Zhang that gangsters were after him. He persuaded Zhang to apply for multiple insurance policies totaling $1.3 million and later to file a false insurance claim after the amputation. 
  • On Jan. 26, 2023, the pair purposely caused severe frostbite by immersing Zhang’s feet in a bucket of dry ice for around 10 hours, resulting in both legs having to be amputated below the calf, according to a Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau press release
  • The pair claimed that Zhang suffered frostbite while riding a motorbike, but medical staff became suspicious, noting that there were “no socks or shoe marks” and that the injuries were “neat and symmetrical.”
  • Prosecutors also noted that the weather on the day of the incident was not below freezing and that severe frostbite cases requiring amputation are unheard of in Taiwan due to its subtropical climate.
  • Zhang and Liao were subsequently arrested after authorities seized evidence including a dry ice box, insurance documents and electronic devices. 
  • Zhang reportedly received a $7,200 insurance payout, but it will be seized, and other claims were canceled due to suspicious timing. The suspects’ legal representation and plea status remain undisclosed.
  • Insurance fraud rates have been rising globally, with opportunistic fraud cases surging, possibly due to economic pressures.
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