‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’ (Web Series): Who was Abdul Karim Telgi and what was the Stamp Paper Scam?


Scam 2003, also known as The Telgi Scam, was a scandal which started in 1992 and came to light in 2003. The scam involved a fake stamp paper racket that extended over many states in India, it was valued at over Rs 30,000 cr. It led us to the conviction of Abdul Karim Telgi, the mastermind who is behind the Scam 2003.

After the success of the web series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Sony LIV released the trailer for Scam 2003: The Telgi Story on 4th August 2023. This time, the series will dig into the high-profile financial fraud of stamp paper committed by Abdul Karim Telgi which was many times bigger than the scam Harshad Mehta had committed.

‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’, which is directed by Tushar Hiranandani, This web series is set to be released on Sony LIV on 2nd September 2023.



Abdul Karim Telgi was born on July 29, 1961 in Belgaum, Karnataka. His father worked at the Indian railways and passed away when Abdul Karim Telgi was young. Telgi financed his own education by selling fruits, vegetables & peanuts on trains. Telgi completed his schooling from the local Sarvodaya Vidyalaya and after that pursued B.Com. He moved to Mumbai to earn, then moved to Saudi Arabia to earn more but was not successful.

After seven years, He began his career as a counterfeiter after returning to India. He created fake passports and documents to export labor from India to middle east countries through his company, Arabian Metro Travels in New Marine Lines. However, in 1993, government authorities started detecting Telgi’s illicit activities, resulting in his apprehension. Consequently, he was incarcerated on charges of forgery at a police station in South Mumbai.

Scam 2003 stamp paper

During his time behind bars, Telgi crossed paths with Ram Ratan Soni, a vendor authorised to distribute government stamps, operating from Kolkata. This unexpected meeting served as the catalyst for a more audacious idea – the conception of larger-scale scams. Seizing the opportunity, Soni enlisted Telgi to partake in the distribution of adhesive stamps and non-judicial stamp papers. In return for his efforts, Telgi received a commission from Soni, thus marking the genesis of their partnership in fraudulent activities.


Scam 2003: What was the Stamp Paper Scam?

In 1994, while working with Ram Ratan Soni, Telgi used his connections in government and receives a license to become a stamp vendor. Telgi and Soni then forged many stamp papers and their business grew rapidly. Telgi used to mix genuine stamp papers with fake papers and started selling them at huge profits. After earning money from the fake stamps paper, Telgi ventured into many side businesses as well.

The year 1995 witnessed the separation of Telgi and Soni, as they pursued separate trajectories. Telgi encountered a fresh wave of difficulties, as his license faced revocation due to legal actions taken by the Mumbai Police for his involvement in the sale of forged stamps papers.

However, by this point, Telgi had gathered a wealth of knowledge essential for establishing his own printing operation. By 1996, Telgi showed how clever he was by making a bunch of friends and partnerships. This all led to him starting his own printing press on Mint Road in Mumbai. By using his links in government, he got several machines declared to be outdated. Then he bought the machines and used them to set up his own printing press.

Scam 2003 Stamp paper

Soon after, his business grew to numerous cities and he attracted people to join him in selling fake stamp papers. These documents were even used in registering property and insurance. Telgi’s business was worth crores in the late 1990’s.



Abdul Karim Telgi was taken by the police in November 2001 when he was in Ajmer, Rajasthan. They arrested him after two mens were caught selling fake stamps in Bengaluru in 2000. Their arrest made the big scam known to everyone. Later, the CBI took control of the case. It was reported that Telgi might have owned 36 properties all over the country and had 100+ bank accounts in 18 big cities.

Scam 2003 arrest

In the year 2003, Anna Hazare, who works to make society better, went to court against Telgi. The scam 2003 was so big that it was worth a shocking Rs 20,000 crore, which surprised the whole country. Some people thought it might be worth Rs 3,000 crore, while others said even Rs 30,000 crore.

Finally, in 2006, Telgi and his associates were given a punishment of 30 years in jail and a fine of Rs 202 crore. Telgi passed away at 56 years old in October 2017 because his organs stopped working. He was in a government hospital in Bangalore.


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