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Abdul Karim Telgi’s Mysteries: The Man Who Led India’s Counterfeit Empire

The name Abdul Karim Telgi resonates with renown in India’s criminal history. This mysterious man, born in 1961, masterminded one of the most notorious counterfeiting scams in the nation’s history. Before his final imprisonment in 2006, he had amassed a massive counterfeit empire worth 30,000 crore. This article delves into the life and misdeeds of Abdul Karim Telgi, the mastermind of the infamous Telgi Scam, which served as the inspiration for SonyLIV’s “Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story.”

The Initial Challenges

The journey of Abdul Karim Telgi began in adversity. When he was still a little child, his father, an Indian Railways employee, passed away. Telgi turned to selling produce on trains in order to pay for his education. This modest beginning, distinguished by tenacity and grit, would serve as the foundation for his future pursuits.

A Detour Abroad and a Change in Objectives

Telgi’s journey to Saudi Arabia in search of better possibilities caused his life to take an unexpected turn. He left India seven years later with a new goal in mind: counterfeiting. This career change would result in the establishment of a criminal empire that would rock India’s financial sector.

Passport fraud and “Pushing” Boundaries

At first, creating fake passports was the main focus of Telgi’s counterfeiting activities. He even founded Arabian Metro Travels, a company created to make it easier to send labor to Saudi Arabia. A technique known in the business as “pushing” involved the production of phony documents by the organization, allowing workers to avoid immigration checks.

The Development of Fake Stamp Paper

However, Telgi soon realized that fake stamp paper offered a more lucrative possibility. He painstakingly put together a network of 300 agents who sold these fake papers to large consumers including banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerage houses. This operation had an estimated value of 30,000 crore, which was mind-boggling in its sheer scope.

The Law’s Extensive Arm

Due to the Telgi Scam’s vast reach, numerous senior police officers and government workers were implicated. Justice eventually caught up with him, and Abdul Karim Telgi was given a 30-year prison term in 2006. A second 13-year term and a massive 202 crore fine were imposed in 2007.

A Tragic End to an Extravagant Life

Telgi had a reputation for living a lavish lifestyle despite his illicit activities. He attended dance clubs and had a romantic relationship with Tarannumn Khan, a bar dancer. According to reports, he even spent an incredible 90 lakh rupees on a single evening at a dance bar.

Sadly, Abdul Karim Telgi’s life ended suddenly in 2017. His fatality was caused by a combination of long-standing medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension and meningitis.