Abdul Karim Telgi may sound like any other name but if we dig a little deeper into financial fraud in India, his story is fascinating and serious. Telgi was born on 29 July 1961 in Khanapur, Karnataka. He started his career as a simple fruit and vegetable seller in Mumbai. He later became the mastermind of the infamous 2003 stamp scam and remains one of the most intriguing stories today.
Scam 2003: Know The Genuine Story of How Fruit Seller Abdul Karim Telgi Defrauded The Country of 30,000 Crores
He starts off as a fruit seller, according to the book on which it is based – Sanjay Singh’s Telgi Scandal: Ek Reporter Ki Diary – Scandal 2003 explores the humble beginnings of a fake fruit seller in Khanapur, Karnataka. Telgi comes from a lower middle-class family and becomes the head of the family when his father, an Indian Railways employee, dies.
His realism, his temporary home, and his daily income from selling fruit on the train stopped him. A chance encounter with a traveler inspired him to pursue his passion, first in Mumbai and then in Saudi Arabia. Seven years later, he returns to Max City with his wife, son, and an itch that won’t go away. Disappointment gave way to a philosophy that guided his difficult life: You have to make money, but you don’t. So they turned to the fake world.
One Foot In The Door
Telgi’s fraudulent efforts were initially dismissed. A fake passport. Under the name Arabian Metro Travels, he created fake legal documents for workers seeking to secure a future in Saudi Arabia. In 1991, the police broke up the illegal trade and Telgi was jailed for the first time. He emerged with a strong determination to think bigger and work harder. Passport fraud is just one blip in the bigger picture. The real profit lies elsewhere: branding.
Build an empire
Stamp documents are the binding denominator of all legal or final transactions. However, they can only be purchased legally from registered dealers. Telgi’s decision to print fake stamp documents was assertive and ensured compliance with the law. For this purpose, Telgi decided to connect with bigwigs like police officers, MLAs, and many government officials who promised to give up their jobs at a reasonable price.
So how will this scam work? Although Scam 2003 describes it more complexly, the simplified version is that Telgi, with the help of several Indian Security Press agents in Nashik, created a stamp paper shortage in the country and then sold fakes (which looked like exact copies). ) to the most discerning eyes), worth thousands of crowns.
At the peak of its counterfeiting business, Telgi employed more than 300 agents who wholesaled counterfeit stamps to banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms, according to LiveMint. He also lived the luxurious life he desired, was a regular at the Topaz Bar on Grant Road in Mumbai, and spent millions on his mistress, bar dancer Tarannumna Khan.
What was the Stamp Paper Scam?
In the early 2000s, India witnessed one of its biggest scams, known as the Stamp Paper Scam. At the center of this intricate web of deception was a man named Abdul Karim Telgi. Telgi, a former small-time criminal turned mastermind, devised an elaborate scheme to counterfeit stamp papers and make millions in illegal profits.
Stamp papers are legal documents used for various transactions such as property sales, leases, and agreements. They serve as proof that certain payments have been made and carry immense importance in legal proceedings. Telgi saw an opportunity to exploit this system by operating a massive network of agents who would sell his forged stamp papers at face value.
The scale of the scam was staggering. It is estimated that Telgi’s operation produced fake stamp papers worth billions of rupees over several years. These counterfeit documents were so convincing that they went undetected for a long time.
But how did such a large-scale scam eventually come to light? The unraveling began when authorities in Bangalore received intelligence about suspicious activities related to stamp paper distribution. A comprehensive investigation ensued, involving multiple law enforcement agencies across different states.
As more information came to light, it became clear that there were widespread irregularities within government institutions responsible for printing and distributing stamp papers. Corrupt officials were found colluding with Telgi and taking bribes to turn a blind eye to his illegal operations.
Arresting The Mastermind Behind The Scam
Telgi initially targeted the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh as the base of the scam, but it eventually expanded to Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, according to Frontline.
In 2001, trouble arose when a series of fake stamps in Pune and Karnataka caught the attention of the state police, who managed to trace both cases to Telgi. There was a protest against the counterfeiting and several political leaders and anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare called for Telgi’s arrest. The weekly reported that the latter even filed a complaint before the Bombay High Court in 2003. The court then appointed a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the case and arrested 54 people involved in the scam.
The CBI, which handled the case, filed an indictment in 2004, and three years later, in 2007, Telgi was sentenced to 30 years in prison and a fine of Rs 202 billion. At the request of the Tax Agency, Telgi’s assets were also seized to pay the fine, Lifestyle Asia reported.
In 2017, Telga, who had long been diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes, suffered another health blow when he developed meningitis. On January 23, 2017, Telgi breathed his last at Bengaluru’s Victoria Hospital, leaving behind a tainted story that is now replayed on television screens.
The Abdul Karim Telgi Scam serves as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and constant adaptation in the face of evolving criminal tactics. It prompted authorities to enhance security features on stamp papers and adopt more stringent measures against forgery.
The Abdul Karim Telgi Scam stands as a testament to the audacity of criminal enterprises and the resilience of law enforcement agencies in India. Telgi’s empire of deceit may have crumbled, but the lessons learned from this dark chapter continue to shape efforts to combat forgery and corruption in the country. As India moves forward, the story of Abdul Karim Telgi serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance and the pursuit of justice.