Stamp Paper Scam


By Manvi Jain, a Student at DME, Noida (GGSIPU)


This article delves into the Telgi Scam, also known as the Stamp Paper Scam in India, masterminded by Abdul Karim Telgi. Beginning as a modest fruit trader, Telgi escalated his criminal activities, creating a massive network involved in producing counterfeit stamps. The narrative traces Telgi’s trajectory from his early life to the establishment of his fraudulent enterprise, detailing the connections he forged with politicians and bureaucrats. The scam’s discovery in 2003 led to legal proceedings, with Telgi eventually pleading guilty in 2006. The aftermath prompted the government to strengthen legislation and oversight. Despite ongoing accusations, Telgi’s death in 2017 marked the conclusion of a case that exposed systemic corruption and influenced government actions to prevent future large-scale fraud.


Scams that occurred on a national scale are not new in India. The Telgi Scam is another name for the Stamp Paper Scam. In order to collect taxes on documents that need to be stamped, like leases, agreements, receipts, court documents, and many more, a “Stamp Paper” is commonly used worldwide. The fabrication and production of counterfeit stamps and stamp papers was key to the scheme. Abdul Karim Telgi, who began his career as a vendor before moving on to work for travel agencies and coming up with the notion of phony stamps, was the mastermind behind this scam. 

At the Mumbai railway station, Abdul Karim Telgi was a fruit and vegetable trader. His family was middle class both when he was born and raised. A Class IV railway official was his father. Despite a number of financial setbacks, the family was able to support itself. They made enough money from selling fruits and vegetables at Khanapur railway station to meet their basic necessities. In the 1970s, twelve trains used to stop at this station. After completing his education at Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Telgi attended Gogte College of Commerce to earn a B. Com. When he finished school, he went to Mumbai to start looking for work. At Fillix India, he was given the position of Sales Executive. He was forced out of the position as a result of his persistently subpar work. After that, he moved toward South Mumbai and was hired by Kishan Guest House as a manager. He was once again forced to quit his work due to his idleness and continued dissatisfaction with the position. His goal was to become wealthy faster, so he decided to move to the Middle East and begin working there. He travelled to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and resided there for seven years. After these seven years, he realized he couldn’t stay any longer and went back to Mumbai.

The Stamp Paper Scam Story 

Telgi’s goal of generating more money in less time led him to use shortcuts to complete tasks quickly and easily. He reached the underground as a result. He was able to establish contacts with bureaucrats, politicians, and members of the underworld. After living in Saudi Arabia for seven years, he developed an interest in tourist scams. He witnessed the illicit usage of travel agencies to transport individuals to Saudi Arabia in search of work. After that, he founded Arabian Metro Travel Company, a travel firm. He routinely committed fraud by forging passports and scamming customers. He also tried using forgeries to send people to Saudi Arabia, but they had dubious credentials and were more likely to be discovered. He employed a crew to produce numerous fictitious documents, such as passports with an ECR (Emigration Check Required). In just seven years, he built up enough connections to be able to ship individuals abroad without authorization and make easy money. His market demand increased with time, and those who wanted to travel to a distant country were willing to spend anything to do so. However, the procedure for transporting people overseas became more stringent over time. The procedure had stopped being simple and uncomplicated. People were unable to travel overseas because they were denied clearance, which left them stuck. He was sued by several persons in 1991 over his actions.

He was charged with and imprisoned for a VISA racket crime in 1993. He connected with another con artist, Ratan Soni, who was detained for defrauding the Indian Stock Exchange, while he was incarcerated. One of the largest scams in India originated from the notion discussed during the meeting. Telgi learned how to conduct crimes and gain a lot of money when he met Ratan Soni in jail. He was persuaded to do major crimes by Ratan Soni as opposed to small-time crimes for a few thousand dollars. They came up with concepts for several successful businesses. 

Telgi learned that the Stamp-Paper office was the government department with the least oversight at the time. They had the notion to create what amounted to virtual money and to make phony stamps. At the time, these scams brought in crores of money in profits. They both had ties to politicians, government officials, and the underworld. They came to realize that this was sufficient to launch India’s largest swindle. They both learned in the 1980s that a host needed stamp documents in order to be legally recognized. At the time, they sold it for less than Rs. 100. They were aware that they could get what they wanted from politicians and other government representatives. All that was needed was to maintain their satisfaction and admiration. Telgi made contact with MLA Anil Gote of the Samajwadi Janata Party. Telgi urged him to set up the meeting with Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Maharashtra Congress government’s then-minister of revenue. In 1994, Telgi was able to obtain a license and establish a stamp paper business in Mumbai. He opened multiple bank accounts and offices in Mumbai so that he could access more resources and be safe.

Through his connections, he bought scrap machinery at the Indian Security Press sale in Nasik. He made deceptive use of these devices. Using his ties to the fullest, he even bought all their raw materials from the Indian Security Press. He bought everything from Nasik Press, including the same ink, to make the phony stamps appear authentic. Using this method, he began making a perfect duplicate of the stamps issued by the Indian government.  

He established a large network and gave the suppliers commissions ranging from 20% to 30%. Before, the government would only contribute 3% of the commission. The vendors were drawn to this, and stamp distribution was made simple. The vendors were taken aback and found it difficult to distinguish between the genuine and counterfeit stamp papers. Banks, insurance companies, and corporations purchased his duplicate stamp papers from over 350 vendors. His network of contacts enabled him to produce a limited edition of unique stamp paper. He was forced to sell his own extra stamp papers in the market as a result. By sending it to a fictitious location and introducing his own counterfeit stamp papers into the market in place of the originals, he disrupted the flow of genuine stamp paper. At the time, there were a lot of counterfeit stamp papers on the market. He obtained counterfeit stamps for nearly all uses, ranging from revenue stamps to stamps for share transfer certificates. He expanded his company in 74 locations and 13 states. To carry out his fraud operations, he employed approximately 900 people across more than 170 offices. He had 120 bank accounts created specifically for fraud. 

Someone alerted the authorities to the influx of phony stamp papers in 2000. Two Telgi couriers were apprehended while being transported through the state of Karnataka. Police had his phone bugged and were monitoring him. While traveling to Ajmer, Telgi was detained. The mastermind behind the Stamp paper hoax was apprehended and imprisoned. A case involving Telgi was handled at the Bund Garden Police Station in June 2003. Senior department officers led the creation of a Special Investigation Committee after all the duplicate and fraudulent stamp papers were found. It was discovered throughout the investigation that India Security Press was complicit in the fraud. They discovered that the department’s government representatives assisted in the transfer of printing technology to Telgi. The Special Department did not take any action against the press at that time. Since 1994, the scam has been conducted, and it included a significant amount of money. Subsequent research revealed that the prominent figures, public servants, and politicians affiliated with the Nasik Press were complicit in the fraudulent scheme. Anil Gote, the Dhule MLA, was imprisoned for four years. The accusations against Anil Gote were later dropped, nevertheless, since the scheme also involved a number of other well-known figures. Through the NARCO Test on Telgi, the Special Department got to know these well-known figures. In the NARCO Test, Telgi mentioned Sharad Pawar, the Union Minister of Agriculture, and Chaggan Bujhbal, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra. In an attempt to avoid responsibility, Telgi disseminated the rumour that he was alert and nervous during the exam, which resulted in the removal of these two individuals from the inquiry. After that, the matter was moved to the CBI division. The MLAs, the Andhra Pradesh Minister, the Mumbai Police Commissioner, the former Joint Commissioner of the Mumbai Police (Crime Branch), the former Deputy Commissioner of the Mumbai Police, and the suspended IPS officer were among the other prominent figures that the CBI discovered. The CBI brought numerous cases against these personnel. 

Telgi entered a guilty plea and was found guilty in 2006. He received a hefty fine of Rs. 202 Crores in addition to 30 years in prison. Eventually, the sentence was reduced to 13 years. He used to get VVIP care while incarcerated as well. He was able to set himself up for a pleasant existence behind bars because he was already a mastermind and had powerful connections. He was on trial in 2007 in Chennai for CBI cases pertaining to offenses under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 255, 248, 259, 420, 467, 468, 471, 474, and 475 as well as Sections 13(1) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998. 

Telgi had a number of medical conditions. In 2002, he was confirmed to be HIV positive. He stated in 2005 that he was refused treatment for his illnesses, including HIV and diabetes, and that others who were afraid of his power had injected him with the virus. He had been dealing with high blood pressure and diabetes for around 20 years. He passed away at Victoria Hospital in Bangalore on October 23, 2017, as a result of meningitis. He passed away before serving his time in jail. That made him only 56 years old. Following his passing, everyone was freed and all accusations and charges were dropped.


There were other charges and accusations made against Telgi even after he was found guilty and imprisoned. The swindle had a serious negative impact on the government, which moved to strengthen the legislation. The fraud had a large number of well-known and influential participants, demonstrating the deep corruption and damage that our system has from the inside out. To make sure that a major scam like this one doesn’t occur again in the future, the authorities implemented safeguards and tightened security checks. The government’s actions were also influenced by the fact that the Stamp Department was not adequately regulated at the time. This taught the government a valuable lesson on how to effectively oversee and monitor all departments. Fake stamps proliferated in the market as a result of the scam, making it challenging for even vendors to recognize and dispose of them once the government learned about it.

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