Story of the $72 Million Teen Trader Unravels

Tom Kludt, CNN Money, December 15, 2014

It didn’t take long for New York Magazine’s story on a 17-year-old stock whiz with a rumored net worth of $72 million to make a splash. But the story’s juicy premise unraveled almost as quickly.

Jessica Pressler wrote the profile of Mohammed Islam, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, for a feature called “Reasons to Love New York.”

After getting an advanced look at Pressler’s piece, the New York Post put the improbable story on its Sunday front page. By Monday morning, Islam’s story was one of the hottest on Facebook.

Then it fell apart. In an interview with the New York Observer published Monday night, Islam admitted that he fabricated the whole story and has never actually made a return on any investment. “So it’s total fiction?” asked the Observer. “Yes,” Islam said.

Early Monday, CNBC’s Josh Brown wondered if Islam was duping “an overly eager press willing to believe.”

Pressler, who will be joining a financial investigative unit at Bloomberg News early next year, takes exception to Brown’s characterization.

“I still think the piece is skeptical enough,” she told CNNMoney early Monday afternoon. “The story says, ‘This is a rumor and draw your own conclusions.'”

In the New York Magazine story, Pressler wrote that the amount of money is “unbelievable,” though she also said “as rumors go, this one seemed legit.” Later, Pressler wrote that Islam “confirmed his net worth is in the ‘high eight figures.'”

She said Islam provided a bank statement to a New York magazine fact-checker, and that the teen does have “an obscene amount of money in his account.”


Pressler said the problem stemmed from the story’s original headline: “A Stuyvesant senior made $72 million trading stocks on his lunch break.”

Pressler said she didn’t write it. “I feel like the headline was pretty glib–I feel comfortable about what’s in the actual piece.”


Business Insider did its own reporting on Monday, eventually learning from an unnamed “source familiar with the story” that the figure was off the mark. Islam’s 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 Pressler’s write-up. “The way we were portrayed is not who we are,” CNBC quoted him as saying.



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  • dd121

    Another amusing story of the liberal media lying to us…again.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      She went to the Jason Blair School of Journalism.

      • Sick of it

        More like the Mossad School of Journalism.

      • TruthBeTold

        News outlets are still investigating Chris Christy trying to find a link to the bridge closings.

        They believe agenda narratives. A liberal never lies so we don’t need to fact check. A conservative is a liar so we have to keep digging until we uncover the lie.

  • Fancy the media peddling this “Mohammed Islam” whiz kid just after Sydney.

    The only way he could have made that kind of money in such short order is if a whole book full of Federal crimes was being violated.

    • Sick of it

      It actually depends on capital and opportunity. I could have made more than that at ten years of age, but I had no money to invest.

    • Oil Can Harry

      If you think this kid’s a phony check out Farrah Gray. He’s the son of anti-white racist Khalid Muhammad and claims he became a self-made millionaire while a teen living in the projects.

      He appears on TV from time to time and cons gullible dorks like Don Lemon with his fairy tales.

  • Easyrhino

    Does the reporter Jessica Pressler still have a paycheck or is fact checking a relic of the 20th century?

    • phorning

      The article says she is going to Bloomberg News early next year, based on the articles I have read there, I think they consider fact checking optional.

      • NoMosqueHere

        Truth and justice are considered irritants or, at best, optional. Lies advancing the black and muslim agenda are deemed a reasonable facsimile of truth. And for justice to prevail whites must be punished.

    • She’s probably friends with Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

    • John Smith

      Probably a promotion to “chief diversity editor.”

  • phorning

    This is more an indictment of the media and the gullibility of the public who uncritically believes anything that pops up in their social media feeds than anything else. The reporter says, “this is a rumor and draw your own conclusion.” The only conclusion you can draw is that the story is implausible simply based off the $72 million figure.

    • obot

      I called BS early on as the story was way too vague on how much he started out with and how he was able to do all that magic during his lunch period.

    • me

      72 -virgins? Coincidence.

  • JackKrak

    Tomorrow we’ll get the story about how, though the story may not have been true, it brought attention to the problem of Muslims are under-represented in the world of finance and getting the facts wrong was a small price to pay for raising awareness about this crucial issue.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Muslims lying like rugs and the all-knowing, ultra-sophisticated msm not fact-checking first?

    Impossible to believe…

    Laura Italiano should take up a new career as a fiction writer…or as a speechwriter for Obama.

    Mohammed Islam? Lies like a rug.

  • MekongDelta69

    Mohammed Islam – Yet another, in a long string, of ‘real’ American names.

  • superlloyd

    Early Monday, CNBC’s Josh Brown wondered if Islam was duping “an overly eager press willing to believe.”

    Any little thing that a brown or black does that is supposedly a little out of the ordinary is salivated over by the liberal media keen to show that all cultures and races are equal. Libtard journalists are pathetic, naive, overpaid idiots that have never lived in the real world.

  • 1stworlder

    They where so hoping for an actual good non Asian minority that they totally ignored the math.

  • buster

    The press didn’t have any problem swallowing Obama’s line of BS either.

    • Swallowing it? Heck: they’ve been his unapologetic cheerleaders.

      • See The Future

        The media elected and re-elected the evil savage in the white house.

  • Another “fantabulous magical negro” story turns out to have been utter poppycock? I am shocked, shocked I say!

    • MBlanc46

      “Helicopter” won’t fly. Make it something a little more exotic and you’re in the next issue of Rolling Stone.

  • WR_the_realist

    How to make $72 million for real:

    1. Get elected to congress.
    2. Before your next election, start soliciting donations by:
    2a. Promising George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg you will give amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants.
    2b. Promising Sheldon Adelson you will start a nuclear war with Iran.
    2c. Promising Bill Gates you’ll pass a law requiring that all government agencies purchase Windows software, and that you will triple the number of H-1b workers.

    2d. Promising Hollywood moguls you will increase the duration of copyright to 1000 years.
    2e. Promising CEOs of big pharmaceutical companies that you will quadruple the limits on what Medicare and Medicaid are willing to spend on overpriced drugs.

    If you have no conscience, it’s easy to get rich in America.

  • Paleoconn

    New and improved Islam: now the religion of peace AND honesty.

  • John Smith

    This should hurt the “smart minority” narrative they push, for a least a little while.

    • Dave West

      A little while?……..maybe for the next 6 hours or so.

  • MathMan

    I looked at his photo and knew it was all BS. Prejudiced? Yes. It comes with experience.

  • Tim

    Reminds me of the old joke- Wife to Stockbroker: “Were you a bull or a bear in the market today, dear?” Husband: “I was a jack-ass…”

  • me

    Tribal nepotism will never get these ‘women’ fired. They’ll get promoted, even though their psyops failed. That’s what the ‘media’ is….PSYOPS.

  • MBlanc46

    Apparently these “new journalists” have never heard the old newspaperman’s rule that “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”.