NY Mag Stands by $72 Million Teen Investor Story as Teen Tells NY Observer It’s Total Fiction

Stuyvesant High senior admitted to NY Observer the story was made up, suggesting it may have all been simulated trades

Last Updated: December 16, 2014 @ 9:36 AM

New York Magazine is standing by its article reporting that Stuyvesant High senior Mohammed Islam made millions playing the stock market, despite growing evidence that the claims may not be true, including an interview Monday night with the New York Observer in which Islam admits he made it all up.

In its online post of the article, which initially appeared Monday in the print edition of the magazine, an editor’s note has been added backing away from the original $72 million dollar claim and the headline touting that figure has been changed, but it stands by the rest of the article, stating that Mohammed provided evidence of his eight-figure worth. NY Magazine has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Editor’s note: Mohammed Islam has denied that he made $72 million on the stock market. Our story portrays the $72 million figure as a rumor; the initial headline has been changed to more clearly reflect the fact that we did not know the exact figure he has made in trades. However, Mohammed provided bank statements that showed he is worth eight figures, and he confirmed on the record that he’s worth eight figures.

The note referenced an article on CNBC where 17-year-old Islam admitted that the $72 million figure was not accurate. Islam and a friend were scheduled to appear on CNBC’s “Halftime Report” after the article was published, but they backed out, according to CNBC on Monday afternoon.

“We expected a regular article about what we hope to do [in our career],” he told CNBC. “The way we were portrayed is not who we are.”

On Monday evening, the New York Observer sat down with Islam and his friend, Damir Tulemaganbetov, where the two admitted that Islam had not actually invested anything, nor had he made any money on the stock market.

NY Observer: Is there ANY figure? Have you invested and made returns at all?

Islam: No.

NY Observer: So it’s total fiction?

Islam: Yes.

Islam said that he had no idea where the $72 million figure cited by New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler came from. “[I led her to believe] I had made even more than $72 million on the simulated trades,” Islam said, before PR reps purportedly interrupted the proceedings and demanded a quick conference.

When the interview recommenced, Islam said, “All I can say is for the simulated trades, I was very successful. The returns were incredible and outperformed the S&P.”

Islam went on to tell the Observer that his parents are very upset with him for lying and that he had to spend the night at a friend’s house. “Their morals are that if I lie about it and don’t own up to it then they can no longer trust me,” he said.

The Leaders Investment Club, of which Islam is a member, released a statement as well on Monday, in which they said they had performed due diligence and interviewed Islam. They have “determined that these claims are false and simply been blown up by the media in the interest of sensationalism.” The club called for Islam to “clear up all misinformation surrounding his claims, misconstrued or otherwise.”

Read the complete statement from the Leaders Investment Club:

It has been brought to the attention of the Leaders Investment Club that Mohammed Islam has been rumored to have made $72,000,000 through making trades in the stock market. After performing due diligence and talking with Mohammed Islam himself, we have determined that these claims are false and simply been blown up by the media in the interests of sensationalism. We hold all our members to exacting moral and investing standards, and ask Mohammed Islam to clear up all misinformation surrounding his claims, misconstrued or otherwise. The goal of Leaders Investment Club is to promote the financial education of Millennials, and we disavow affiliation with members who fail to promote accurate and transparent information.