​Mohammed Islam Update: High School Student Admits $72M Stock Market Hoax

Author: Jennifer HongBy:
Staff Reporter
Dec, 15, 2014 | 11:00 PM

Mohammed Islam is a high school student who made $72m from the stock market, and and he did all that during his lunch breaks in Manhattan.

Update: On the evening of Monday, December 15, 2014, at 8PM, Mohammed Islam admitted to the New York Observer that the entire story is a hoax, and he has not actually made any real trades before.

The 17-year-old student at Stuyvesant High School claims he invested wisely, according to Fox News. But how true is this story? Islam said he made so much money already that he purchased a BMW and rented his own apartment.

“What makes the world go round? Money. If money is not flowing, if businesses don’t keep going, there’s no innovation, no products, no investments, no growth, no jobs.”

The story made front page news on Sunday morning, and it was the most popular rumor on Facebook and Twitter by Monday afternoon. Most kids at his age are hanging out with friends and actually going to lunch. Mohammed Islam claims he did the opposite.

A high school student who makes $72m in the stock market had Wall Street turning, according to the New York Post. It didn’t take long before people started poking holes in the story. The idea that anybody, much less a teenager, could make this kind of money trading is questionable.

Islam’s Stuyvesant High School Investment Club told Business Insider it performed “due dilligence” and discovered that “these claims are false” and had been hyped by “the media in the interests of sensationalism.” Islam then splashed cold water on the figure himself, telling CNBC on Monday that he doesn’t even know who started the rumor. He also took issue with the recent front page write-up.

This was far different than what New York magazine writer Jessica Pressler said. Pressler said she confirmed his net worth is in the “high eight figures” and completed a lot of fact-checking. She said Mohammed Islam provided a bank statement, which revealed “an obscene amount of money in his account.”

“Everyone at Stuy knew that Mohammed, the soft-spoken son of Bengali immigrants from Queens and the president of the school’s Investment Club, was basically a genius,” wrote Jessica Pressler of New York magazine. “As the news spread, Mo’s stock went up.”

The real question is, how much of the “high school student makes $72m in stock market” is real and how much is just on paper. New York Magazine defended Pressler’s reporting, noting the headline change and the fact that the “story itself does not specify an amount.” It isn’t hard to see why the story initially got so much attention.

The headline was: “A Stuyvesant senior made $72 million trading stocks on his lunch break.” It now reads: “Because a Stuyvesant Senior Made Millions Picking Stocks. His Hedge Fund Opens as Soon As He Turns 18.” Even that shows a difference.

Jessica Pressler followed Mohammed Islam and a pair of his friends around as they dined on caviar and fresh-squeezed apple juice. There’s a casual reference to a “hedge-fund guy” who wants to give the three youngsters $150 million to invest. They spoke in reverential terms about the Koch brothers and the “Wolf of Wall Street,” with Islam in the role of Jordan Belfort.

But Pressler seemed perplexed by all the scrutiny. The story in her mind was worth the publication. But the critics don’t agree if Islam lied (not saying he did or didn’t).

“Holding it to the standard of a financial publication? It’s just a different thing. That’s not to say it isn’t important if he lied. If he lied, then he lied … But I just want to be clear that we didn’t 100% follow this lie. That’s just not what happened. The story is the reason to love New York … And I came to love the fact that these kids are running around the city with these big dreams. It can only happen in New York, these kids eating caviar, talking about how they’re going to be the new Koch bothers. It seems like a uniquely New York milieu.”

A high school student who makes $72m in the stock market should probably be working at Harvard, or Wall Street, if it was true. The truth is, there are errors made in journalism, whether it be this one or not. The story of making this kind of money by a teen trading in the stock market is the real question, notes Daily Telegraph.

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