Top 10 Scams That Shook India

India has witnessed scams ever since our Independence causing damage to the nation’s image and hurting the economy. The scams have shaken the country- from the disappearance of INA’s treasure chest in 1947 to Vijay Malia in 2016 or the Recruitment scam in 2021. 

In 2016, a Berlin-based NGO known as Transparency International conducted research that labelled India the most corrupt Asian-pacific nation.

Having said that all, let’s take a look at some of  India’s biggest scams:

1. Telgi Scam

Abdul Karim Telgi was accused of counterfeit stamp papers in India, previously a vegetable vendor of Khanapur, Karnataka. He had links with the underworld and spent his time learning trade tricks from a professional forger in jail.  

An investigation conducted by the agencies revealed that the fake stamp papers business operated by Abdul Karim was like a mega-industry that he ran with 350 agents.

Telgi was able to use his connections with various government departments to print and sell high-security stamps illegally. 

In 2003 the scam was exposed, and authorities revealed that the entire scheme was carried out in 12 states and pegged 200 billion INR. 

2. Indian Coal Allocation ScamscamsIn 2012, under the UPA government’s power, CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) brought the Coalgate scam to light. It is an example of a political scam involving politicians and bureaucrats inefficiently allocating the country’s coal block reserve. 

The case involved the arbitrary allocation of coal deposits to state-run entities and private companies by the Indian government. 

Dr. Manmohan Singh headed the coal ministry in 2006-09, and the scam brought about a loss of 1.86 lakh crores for 2004-09 to the country. 

3. Roshni Land Scam

CBI recently revealed in 2020 additional cases of powerful and wealthy grabbing land. The scam was shown in the CAG audit in 2013 itself, indicating a loss to the state treasury of 25,000 crores.  

In 2001, Farook Abdullah’s government introduced the Roshni Act or Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act. 

It enabled illegal encroachers of state land until 1990 to gain property rights by paying a sum decided by the J&K government, which aimed to help raise funds for the power project. 

The act was used by Farook Abdullah himself for his benefit and had built an Alishan bungalow on forest government’s land and owes 1crore INR to date. Famous leaders, businessman and influential politicians and their families have taken advantage of the act as well.

4. 2G Spectrum Scam2G scam verdict: All 18 accused including A Raja acquitted, Congress seeks  ex-CAG Vinod Rai's apology - BusinessTodayThe Supreme court said that the 2G spectrum scam had put ‘all other scams to shame’. According to CAG, it caused the national treasury a loss of 1760 billion INR (176000 crores). However, CBI estimates it to be 30,984 crores. 

The telecom minister, A Raja, was accused of not following telecom companies’ 2G spectrum license allocation rules and regulations. Even his daughter was charged in the case. 

In 2008, the government undercharged 122 mobile operators. The allotment was declared to be ‘unconstitutional and arbitrary’. The loss mentioned above is the difference between the money authorised to be collected and the actual amount collected.  

5. Commonwealth Games Scam

The main accused of the scam was Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Organising Committee of the CWG. India hosted the commonwealth games in 2010, which was filled with corrupt activities leading to a loss of 70,000 crores.   

It comprised contract execution delays in venue construction, non-existent parties, criminal conspiracy, forgery and cheating. The scam received massive media coverage. 

Kalmadi inflated the swiss timing deal with 95 crore and misappropriated funds. Reports also showed Indian athletes ten days before the game were moved into shabby apartments instead of the authority’s allotted flats. 

6. Adarsh Housing Society ScamAdarsh scam: Bombay HC grants relief to Ashok ChavanIt was a scam to grab government land by certain officers holding key office and subverting the rule of law. The fraud involved former Chief Ministers Late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan. 

The chief minister allotted land in 2002 to construct a cooperative society. It was named Adarsh housing society, aiming at the welfare of Kargil widows. Instead, politicians, military officials and others bought falts below market rates. 

7. Vijay Mallya’s ScamVijay Mallya: Kingfisher Airlines case: Vijay Mallya mocks banks for saying  he still owes them money - The Economic TimesThe most popular scam involves the mastermind Vijay Mallya who has an episode all about himself in the Nextflix Series “Bad Boy Billionaires: India”. 

Mallya was accused of money laundering and fraud, who had taken up 9000crores worth of loans from various banks in India. The loan was known to be taken to save his kingfisher airlines from folding. However, Mallya used this money to buy shares in 40 companies around the globe. 

In 2016, charges were made against him for financial fraud, but Mallya had already left India and sought refuge in the United Kingdom.

8. Satyam Computer’s Scam

It is the Indian corporate industry’s biggest scam amounting to Rs.14,162 crores. 

Mr. Satyam Raju, the chairman of Satyam Computers, forged his books of accounts for several years and inflated revenue and profit figures. 

On Jan 7, 2009, Raju resigned, confessing the fraud and his failed efforts to fill the “fictitious assets with the real ones”. In 2015, he, along with ten other members were convicted. 

9. Karnataka Wakf Board (KWB) Land Scam

Wafk board is a Muslim charitable trust that controls donated land for the use of the poor. State minorities committee submitted a report in 2012, claiming embezzlement of 27,000 acres of land managed by the KWB. 

The chairman of the minorities committee further added that there had been an illegal allocation of 50% of the land by board members and politicians. The misappropriated land was to be donated to the underprivileged. 

It is known to be the most significant land scam with over 2000 billion worth. 

10. PNB (Punjab National Bank) and Nirav Modi ScamAll You Need to Know About Nirav Modi after PNB FraudThe controversial scam of all times revolves around the jeweller and designer Nirav Modi

He, along with his wife, uncle and brother, in conjunction with 2 of the PNB senior bank officials, carried out this scam. 

PNB filed a report against Nirav Modi and relating companies to obtaining LoUs (Letter of Undertakings) from the bank without paying the loans’ margin amount. The LoUs implied the bank would be held liable to pay the company’s amount had they failed to pay the loan. 

In 2018, before the scan broke out, Nirav Modi and his family secretly left the country, leaving behind a fraud of 11,356 crores. However, he was arrested in 2019 by the UK authorities. 


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