The Counterfeiter : Abdul Karim Telgi and the Stamp Scam

The Counterfeiter : Abdul Karim Telgi and the Stamp Scam

no title has been provided for this book
Telgi and the stamp scam? Didn’t that happen a quarter of a century ago? Why now? Because the complete story of the counterfeiter and scamster has never been told before. Because the story of the sheer innovation and audacity of an underdog needs to be told. Because the complex web of corruption involving lawmakers and law-keepers continues. Because the crime has all the overtones of a Bollywood potboiler, replete with chases, corrupt government officials and…

The proverb “fact is stranger than fiction” ought to be changed to “fact is stranger and more exciting than fiction.” This was the first thought that struck me after reading the initial chapters of this book. 

Despite being a fast reader, I thought that it was going to take me a few days to finish it. After all, it’s a nonfiction book! So what if it’s about a financial scam purportedly running into a few thousand crores! 

The introduction, filled with a whole lot of information and statistics about corruption in the world and India along with details of anti-corruption and vigilance bureaus, strengthened this belief. Then I turned the page to chapter 1 and the excitement began. My belief lay wasted. 

What I loved about the book: Names, places, events, undercover operations, et al are rife until the last page, just before the appendix. Follow the author’s advice and begin reading the book from the Appendix where legal and financial terms are explained in layman’s terms. The exciting pace of the narrative reduces only to fit important, pertinent, detailed statistics, observations and judgments of court cases, and other information.

Replete with incidents where foes turn friends, friends turn foes, subverted investigations, the complicity of law-enforcers and people in higher echelons of power, and much, much more of the murky world beyond the common man’s ethics, morals, and legal knowledge, this fast-paced narrative, I’m sure, could be the basis of an amazing OTT series a la Scam 1992, except much bigger. The humongous number of characters involved could be an impassioned cast director’s delight.

A must-read not just for the racy narrative but also to learn how financial and legal systems work in India. I  firmly believe that the more aware and vigilant the layperson becomes, the better the chances to prevent systems made by the well-intended from becoming riddled with gaping loopholes by the greedy and unscrupulous. And such books, informatively and splendidly, serve that purpose.

Some pointers from my perspective to make it an even better read: A few scattered typos and grammatical errors could’ve been avoided with one more round of proofreading. The names of people involved could have been reduced because the connections and relationships with AKL left me mind-boggled. Lots of money is easy to connect, at least for me. So many people! Just a thought, that’s all. 


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