‘Cold play’: Taiwanese man goes for leg amputation in scam to claim million-dollar payout , Latest World News - The New Paper

‘Cold play’: Taiwanese man goes for leg amputation in scam to claim million-dollar payout

A Taiwanese university student was hoping to pocket over NT$41 million (S$1.7 million) in insurance payouts by claiming that he lost his feet to frostbite.

But his frosty fraud has instead landed him in hot water, after investigators found out he had soaked his feet in dry ice for over 10 hours in order to feign frostbite severe enough to warrant a double amputation.

Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau said the student, surnamed Chang, conspired with his former high school classmate, surnamed Liao, to orchestrate the fraud.

First, Chang took out policies covering disabilities, injuries, health and travel safety from at least five insurers.

Then, on Jan 26, 2023, both men rode around several locations in northern Taipei, including Yangmingshan and Tamsui.

They wanted to create the impression that Chang had suffered frostbite after riding on a motorcycle on a wintry night.

To make his injuries more believable, Liao instigated Chang to soak his feet in a pail of dry ice for more than 10 hours. He reportedly tied Chang to a chair at his home so that the latter had no choice but to put up with the pain of the ice burn.

Chang’s legs were swollen after the long ordeal. He was hospitalised on Jan 28, 2023, and on Feb 6, he had a below-the-knee amputation.

He later filed claims and managed to get NT$230,000 from one insurer.

However, the dates of his policy purchases and his injury raised suspicions among other insurers, who reported the case to the local authorities.

Investigators from Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office found that Chang had frostbite injuries that were abnormally symmetrical and without imprint from his shoes or socks.

Data from meteorological agencies also showed that the temperature on Jan 26, 2023, ranged between 6 deg C and 17 deg C. It was not cold enough to cause frostbite.

Among the items investigators retrieved from the two men’s possessions were medical records, insurance policy documents, eight mobile phones as well as a styrofoam box to hold dry ice and a green plastic bucket Chang soaked his feet in.

Further investigations found that Liao was facing financial problems due to cryptocurrency losses. He duped Chang into signing a promissory note worth NT$25 million – a substantial portion of the potential payout, and masterminded the amputation ruse.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau said on March 14 that both men will be charged with fraud. Liao was also charged with causing serious injuries. Their illicit gains were confiscated.