Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story was released on September 1. Hansal Mehta, the creator of the blockbuster web series Scam 1992, serves as the creative director for this second installment in the Scam franchise. Adapted from Sanjay Singh’s book, “Telgi Scam: Reporter’s Ki Diary,” the web series is available for streaming on SonyLIV. Let’s delve into the life of Abdul Karim Telgi, the central figure on whom this gripping story is based.
Telgi, a name synonymous with infamy in India, was the mastermind behind one of the nation’s most notorious counterfeiting scandals. Born in 1961, Telgi’s life was a fusion of ambition, ingenuity, and criminality, ultimately resulting in the creation of a counterfeit empire that sent shockwaves through the country’s financial institutions.
Abdul Karim Telgi’s early life was defined by adversity. His father, an employee of Indian Railways, passed away when Telgi was just a child. To support his schooling, Telgi resorted to selling fruits and vegetables aboard trains. However, his life took a significant turn when he moved to Saudi Arabia, and after seven years, he returned to India with a new, and illicit, career path in mind—counterfeiting.
The Counterfeit Empire
In the beginning, Telgi’s counterfeit endeavors primarily revolved around forging passports. He went as far as establishing a company called Arabian Metro Travels, ostensibly to aid the export of labor to Saudi Arabia. However, behind the facade, his company engaged in the production of counterfeit documents that enabled laborers to circumvent immigration checks, a deceptive practice commonly referred to as “pushing” within the industry.
Also Read: Telgi Pleads Guilty in Fake Stamp Scam
Subsequently, Telgi made a significant shift towards a more profitable enterprise—counterfeit stamp paper. He assembled a network of 300 agents tasked with distributing these counterfeit stamps to large-scale buyers, including banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerage firms. The sheer magnitude of this operation was staggering, with estimates placing it at a colossal scale ₹30,000 crore.
The scandal’s vast reach extended to the involvement of numerous police officers and government officials. In 2006, Telgi was handed a severe punishment, sentenced to 30 years of rigorous imprisonment. Subsequently, in 2007, he received an additional 13-year sentence. Additionally, he was ordered to pay a hefty fine of 202 crore as part of his legal consequences.
Personal Life and Demise
Abdul Karim Telgi was notorious for his extravagant lifestyle, which often included frequent visits to dance bars. It was rumored that he was deeply enamored with a bar dancer named Tarannumn Khan. According to reports, he lavished her with considerable wealth and gifts. However, Telgi’s lavish lifestyle and criminal activities eventually caught up with him.
In 2017, Abdul Karim Telgi’s life met an untimely conclusion, with meningitis serving as the primary cause, exacerbated by longstanding health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.
In the grand scheme of things, Abdul Karim Telgi emerges as a complex figure—a man whose journey began with humble origins but ultimately led to the construction of an empire, albeit one firmly rooted in dubious ethical terrain.