That Teen Who Said He Made Millions Trading Stocks At Lunch? He Now Says He Lied.
Update: Mohammed Islam has issued a video apology that you can watch here.
After generating tons of excitement and tons of press for talking about the millions he made during his lunch breaks at New York’s specialized Stuyvesant High School, Mohammed Islam now admits that he lied.
Listed in New York magazine as one of the things to love about this city, Islam now saysthat not only did he not make $72 million in investments, he actually made $0. From the New York Observer’s interview with the teen:
You seem to be quoted saying “eight figures.” That’s not true, is it?
No, it is not true.
Is there ANY figure? Have you invested and made returns at all?
So it’s total fiction?
Islam says he does run an investment club at his high school, but those trades are “simulated.” As for the $72 million figure, he says he never told New York that number, and actually hinted that it was more. Otherwise, that’s just “a rumor” as well.
“If I’m his mom, I’m embarrassed, disappointed and pissed,” said Gayle King on CBS This Morning. In fact, that’s exactly what happened.
“Honestly, my dad wanted to disown me. My mom basically said she’d never talk to me,” Islam said. “Their morals are that if I lie about it and don’t own up to it then they can no longer trust me. … They knew it was false and they basically wanted to kill me and I haven’t spoken to them since.”
His friend, Damir Tulemaganbetov, goes on to say that the two were actually at the CNBC studios preparing for an interview when they had a change of heart and canceled the appearance.
Since then, people have been going off in the comments section of the original New York story and the reporter, Jessica Pressler, has been getting an earful on social media. Just last week, it was announced that she would be going to Bloomberg News to join their investigative unit covering “the culture of wealth and money.”
The magazine has posted a retraction of sorts, saying they changed their headline but “Mohammed provided bank statements that showed he is worth eight figures, and he confirmed on the record that he’s worth eight figures.”
In the end, when you really think about it, the figure should have raised red flags and the fact checking should have been more thorough. But if someone tells you they’re a multi-millionaire and allows a notable magazine to write a story about it, it seems legit right? With stories of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and David Karp, the founder of Tumblr who never even finished high school but sold his creation to Yahoo for $1.1 billion, it’s easier to swallow a story like this. Just a reminder to reporters, double check, then check again.