The Inspiration for SonyLIV’s ‘Scam 2003′
Abdul Karim Telgi, the mastermind behind India’s infamous counterfeit stamp paper scam, created a counterfeit empire worth ₹30,000 crores before receiving a 30-year prison sentence in 2006.
The web series ‘Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story’ was released on September 1st. Hansal Mehta, the producer of the blockbuster web series ‘Scam 1992,’ is the creative director of the ‘Scam’ franchise’s second installment. Based on Sanjay Singh’s book ‘Telgi Scam: The Reporter’s Diary,’ this web series will be streaming on SonyLIV. Let’s explore who Abdul Karim Telgi was, upon whom this story is based.
Telgi – A Notorious Name in India
Telgi was a name notorious in India, the mastermind behind one of the country’s most infamous scams. Born in 1961, Telgi’s life was a mix of ambition, simplicity, and criminality, leading to a counterfeit empire that shook the nation’s financial institutions.
Telgi’s early life was filled with hardships. When he was young, his father, a Indian Railways employee, passed away. To support his schooling, he sold fruits and vegetables on trains. Eventually, Telgi moved to Saudi Arabia, and after seven years, he returned with a new career path in mind – forgery.
The Counterfeit Empire
Initially, Telgi focused on creating fake passports and started a business named “Arabian Metro Travels” to facilitate the export of Saudi Arabia’s workforce. His company produced counterfeit documents that allowed laborers to bypass immigration checks, a practice known as “pushing” in the industry.
However, Telgi soon shifted to a more lucrative venture – counterfeit stamp paper. He recruited 300 agents to sell these fake documents to banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerage firms. The scale of this operation was staggering, estimated at around ₹30,000 crores.
Caught by the Law
The scam was so extensive that it involved several police officers and government officials. Finally, in 2006, Telgi was sentenced to 30 years of rigorous imprisonment. In 2007, he was given an additional 13-year sentence. He was also ordered to pay a fine of ₹202 crores.
Personal Life and Demise
Telgi was known for his extravagant lifestyle, which included frequent visits to dance bars. It was rumored that he had a fondness for a dancer named Tarannum Khan and once swindled ₹90 lakhs in a single evening at a bar.
In 2017, Telgi’s life came to an abrupt end due to meningitis, along with long-standing health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure.
In the end, Abdul Karim Telgi was a complex individual – a humble beginning, an ascent to build an empire, all built on shaky moral foundations.