The Counterfeiter: Abdul Karim Telgi & The Stamp Scam

The Counterfeiter: Abdul Karim Telgi & The Stamp Scam

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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 Counterfeiter chronicles the life and times of one of India’s most notorious scamster, Abdul Karim Telgi, and provides in-depth information about the Stamp Scam.

Truth is stranger than fiction and the story of Telgi and the Stamp Scam highlights this fact like never before. 

Who was Telgi? What was his background? How did he execute the phenomenal fraud? Who were his accomplices? What was the police doing? And, finally, how was he apprehended and condemned?

The author goes down the rabbit hole in this thrilling account and provides answers to these questions and many more. (There is very little authorial intervention or bias reflected in the narrative. Bhaswar Mukherjee tells it as it happened.)

The book lays bare the incompetencies and limitations of the governance system, the lacklustre approach of the authorities in actively fighting against this cancer of corruption and the role of bureaucracies and red tape in bringing the perpetrator to justice by our law and judiciary. 

Having said that, The Counterfeiter is evidently not for every reader. The narrative is more like a thesis, utilising a lot of legalese, case numbers, names and addresses and dates. 

For primarily fiction readers, it will be difficult to navigate the book. Besides the technical aspects, the narrative goes back and forth in time, referring to cases and people involved throughout the scam period. 

I will also add that I (a pathological crime fiction aficionado) truly enjoyed reading it. 

Yes, it was difficult as I rarely read non-fiction. 

The book starts out with a bang and builds up the true crime tension, however the narrative evens out during the middle part of the book. Still, I kept reading, and the action rises again towards the end and how! So much so that I lapped up the last 60-70 pages within a couple of hours! 

I had heard of the Stamp scam and of Telgi via the news when it happened, but this is the first time I read the whole complex tale and I was hanging onto every word! For me, the reading experience was thrilling, informative and immensely satisfying.

In addition, it was phenomenally educating as a crime writer. I learned a lot about crime, police, and legal procedures in India. I also picked up a lot of official jargon and legal terms that I might not have gotten to know otherwise. 

This book is a wonderful source of information for readers interested in true crime and especially those with an inclination toward the financial sector and how corruption and scams impact society as a whole. 

A gem of a book for writers writing true crime or aspiring to write in the genre. 

Happy reading!


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