A Taiwanese family guilty of an elaborate scheme that saw two parents faking their deaths so that their children could claim compensation money has had their cover blown.
Described by local newspaper Taipei Times as the “perfect insurance scam,” the details of the plot were carried out by 66-year-old Hsu Wen-tung and his wife, Yan Li-ying.
In 2001, Hsu and Yan staged their deaths along a coastal highway near Taiwan’s Yilan County, on the island’s east coast.
According to investigators cited by Taipei Times, Hsu and his wife parked their car along Yilan’s Binhai Coast Road. They then exited their vehicle and pushed it off a cliff near the sea, driving away with their children in a separate car afterwards.
Following the incident, Hsu’s children received over $106 million Taiwan dollars (HK$ 28 million) of compensation money from Cathay Life Insurance, one of the largest insurers in Taiwan. Hsu’s children claimed that their parents had died in an accident and that their bodies had been lost at sea.
In reality, Hsu and Yan hid in Taipei County’s northern Tamsui district for four years before eventually fleeing to the mainland’s Jiangsu Province.
In May of this year, Yan fell ill after a heart attack and died in a Jiangsu hospital, where it was discovered that her passport and residency permit had been falsified.
After mainland officials denied Yan the right to be cremated because of her illegal status, Hsu and his children revealed the nature of their scheme to a prosecutor’s office in Taipei and asked for permission to re-enter Taiwan for Yan to be properly cremated.
Hsu arrived in Taiwan yesterday with the body of his wife and was escorted to the Keelung District Prosecutor’s Office in Taipei County by local police.
Hsu told police that he had experienced a "hard time" living on the mainland, United Daily News reported, and added that he had only devised the insurance scam with his family to avoid paying large amounts of debt that he owed from his days as manager of a failed construction company in the 1990s.
Investigations into the extent of his scam and the role his children played are currently ongoing.