Yesterday, when we skeptically mocked the NY Mag's Jessica Pressler coverage of Mohammed Islam, the 17-year-old wunderkind who "allegedly" made $72 million in the market by trading penny stocks, we covered the salient lies and told readers to "feel free to click on the NY Mag's story about the young "multi-millionaire" - after all that was the whole point." Sure enough, in the finest tradition of the New Republic's Stephen Glass, the entire article was nothing more than one epic big clickbait fest.
Oh, did we mention: completely fabricated clickbait.
Because after the entire world learned that young trading whiz-kid Mohammed Islam had "made" $72 million, certainly including the IRS which would promptly come looking for the $36 or so million it was due, the alleged megatrader, who got just the wrong 15 minutes of fame, scrambled to set the record straight, and explained the instead of making money, he actually made nothing, he just made it all up: to wit: "Is there ANY figure? Have you invested and made returns at all? No. So it’s total fiction? Yes. I run an investment club at Stuy High which does only simulated trades."
Well that clears it up.
Now all he needs is a newsletter and he can claim he is Investment Club 2.0.
For the full story we present the following interview with the NY Observer, where Islam confesses he is nothing but a paper trader.
New York Mag’s Boy Genius Investor Made It All Up
Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”
And now it turns out, the real number is … zero.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Islam and his friend Damir Tulemaganbetov, who also featured heavily in the New York story, the baby faced boys who dress in suits with tie clips came clean. Swept up in a tide of media adulation, they made the whole thing up.
Speaking at the offices of their newly hired crisis pr firm, 5WPR, and handled by a phalanx of four, including the lawyer Ed Mermelstein of RheemBell & Mermelstein, Mr. Islam told a story that will be familiar to just about any 12th grader—a fib turns into a lie turns into a rumor turns into a bunch of mainstream media stories and invitations to appear on CNBC.
Here’s how it happened.
Observer: What was your first contact with the New York magazine reporter?
Mohammed Islam: My friend’s father worked at New York magazine and he had the reporter contact me. Then she [Jessica Pressler] called me.
You seem to be quoted saying “eight figures.” That’s not true, is it?
No, it is not true.