Taiwanese Student Amputates His Own Legs After Being Persuaded by His Friend for $1.3M Insurance Payout, Gets Only $7K

Zhang and Liao
Liao being arrested by the police (left) and an image of a person immersing their feet in a bucket of dry ice. Twitter

Two Taiwanese men are facing criminal charges after one of them allegedly urged the other to purposefully freeze his legs to the point of requiring amputations in what authorities characterized as a botched attempt to collect a $1.3 million insurance payout.

The suspects, identified only as Zhang and Liao, both in their 20s, have been charged with fraud, according to a press release shared by the Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau on March 14.

Liao Told Zhang Gang Members were After Him, Persuaded Him to Immerse His Feet in Dry Ice Bucket for 10 Hours

Prosecutors said Zhang immersed his feet in a bucket of dry ice for around 10 hours, which resulted in frostbite and required both legs to be amputated. Liao allegedly told Zhang that gang members were after him, persuading him to file a false insurance claim, Taiwan News reports, citing authorities.

According to the release, which is translated from Mandarin, Zhang said he suffered frostbite while riding a motorcycle with his friend Liao around Taipei on Jan. 26, 2023.

Prosecutors alleged that he applied for life insurance, travel insurance and accident insurance in the days before the incident. The insurance policies totaled $1.3 million.

Medical Staff Found Zhang's Amputation was Done Intentionally, Investigators Found Weather to be Inconsistent with Claims

The pair then went back to Liao's home where the foot soaking took place, Taiwan News reports. After the foot soaking, Zhang was taken to a local hospital, where medical staff believed that his injuries were manufactured, prosecutors said. The medical staff said that while his feet had frostbite, there were "no socks or shoe marks'' and that the injuries were "neat and symmetrical," the release states.

Prosecutors added in the release that the temperature that day was between 42 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is nowhere near the temperature (32 degrees Fahrenheit) that would cause frostbite.

"Taiwan is a subtropical region, and cases of severe frostbite requiring amputation due to natural climate factors in the flatlands are unheard of," the release states.

While Zhang's legs were amputated below the calf, the case was reported to local authorities, according to the release. During the investigation, authorities seized a dry ice white styrofoam box, a plastic bucket believed to have been used by Zhang, insurance documents, and electronic devices, prosecutors said. The pair were subsequently arrested on Jan. 14.

Liao Tricked Zhang After Suffering Huge Losses in Cryptocurrency

Prosecutors said in the release that Liao suffered losses from trading cryptocurrency and tricked Zhang into signing a promissory note ordering him to pay nearly $800,000.

According to Taiwan News, authorities said that Zhang received one $7,200 insurance payout, but the money will be seized. The other claims filed following the incident were apparently canceled by the insurance providers due to the short time between getting the policies and filing them, the outlet reported.