Student Faces Jail Time After Having His Legs Amputated In RM6.19 Million Insurance Scam

The 23-year-old received a single insurance payout of RM33,914, which he now has to return.

Cover image via Criminal Investigation Bureau

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A 23-year-old student in Taipei recently immersed his legs in a bucket filled with dry ice for 10 hours, resulting in severe frostbite and necrosis.

He did this as part of an elaborate insurance scam, ultimately leading to double amputation of his legs below the knees.

According to Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau, the student committed insurance fraud by inflicting self-harm to claim high-value disability payouts totalling NTD41.26 million (approximately RM6.19 million).

The student, identified as Zhang, was allegedly persuaded by his friend, Liao, to carry out the fraudulent scheme after the latter suffered losses from cryptocurrency trading, reported Business Insider.

Liao, also 23, had tricked Zhang into signing a legal note obligating him to pay about USD800,000 (approximately RM3.76 million) and told Zhang that gangsters were pursuing him to claim the amount.

Zhang purchased multiple insurance policies shortly before allegedly inducing frostbite to his legs. However, his compensation claims were denied by eight insurance companies due to the suspicious timing of the policy purchases and the filing of claims following the amputation of his legs.

Image via Taiwan News

Here's how the duo devised the elaborate scheme

According to the indictment charge, Zhang and Liao rode a scooter late at night to purchase dry ice in Sanchong District in the western part of New Taipei City, local media outlet Taiwan News reported.

They returned to Liao's residence later that night, where Liao used cable ties to restrain Zhang to a chair. Afterwards, Zhang immersed both his legs into a plastic bucket filled with dry ice.

Zhang remained tied to the chair from 2am until 12.30pm the next day, enduring pain for close to 10 hours. He was then taken to the emergency department of Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei.

After over a week of treatment, both of his legs were amputated below the knees.

Zhang managed to obtain over NTD230,000 (approximately RM33,914) through a single insurance payout. However, he will now have to return the money after their scheme was exposed.

The duo's scheme was exposed after medical staff at the hospital sensed something was amiss while assessing Zhang's situation

The Criminal Investigation Bureau said that Zhang's legs had no shoe or sock marks, and his injuries appeared symmetrical, which were inconsistent with a naturally occurring frostbite injury.

"[Additionally], as Taiwan is a subtropical region, cases of severe frostbite requiring amputation are unheard of due to natural climatic conditions," the bureau said in its statement last week.

After Zhang's legs were amputated, the hospital alerted the authorities.

When police investigated Zhang and Liao, they found the plastic bucket used to freeze Zhang's feet, insurance documents, a white polystyrene box to store dry ice, eight mobile phones, and a tablet computer.

Liao and Zhang, who is now disabled for life, were arrested in January this year.

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office has since charged the pair with fraud and embezzlement.

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