Not so fast. A high school student by the name of Mohammed Islam made headlines after leading New York magazine to believe he had made $72 million by playing the stock market — but turns out, he was lying. In an interview with the Observer, New York mag's "boy genius" admitted he made it all up.
So how exactly did a high school senior pull off the hoax? Islam told the Observer, while being monitored by newly hired PR firm 5WPR, that his "friend's father worked at New York magazine and he had the reporter contact me and then she [New York magazine writer Jessica Pressler] called me."
When asked if he made any investments at all, after being quoted he made "eight figures," the teen admitted he's never invested in his life. Islam, who runs an investment club which does only "simulated trades" at his prestigious high school, Stuyvesant High School, explained: "[I led her to believe] I had made even more than $72 million on the simulated trades…All I can say is for the simulated trades, I was very successful. The returns were incredible and outperformed the S&P."
Those trades, however, are obviously just for play and now Islam is facing disappointed parents (and likely an angry New York magazine.)
"Honestly, my dad wanted to disown me," he told the Observer of what happened when his parents saw the news citing his alleged millions. "My mom basically said she’d never talk to me. 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."
Islam and his friend Damir Tulemaganbetov, who joined him on the hoax, were also about to make an appearance on CNBC. "We were at CNBC [before this]…But we were there and literally in the building stressing out. We had 20 minutes. Then we three times asked them, 'Could we have 20 seconds to talk?" The two pals then canceled the appearance.
As for where the boys go from here, Tulemaganbetov acknowledged, "socially people will be mad about it, but we're sorry. Especially to our parents," while Islam said: "At school, first things first. I am incredibly sorry for any misjudgment and any hurt I caused. The people I’m most sorry for is my parents. I did something where I can no longer gain their trust. I have one sister, two years younger, and we don’t really talk."
New York magazine, for their part, who placed Islam's fake assets at No. 12 in its 10th annual "Reasons to Love New York" issue in December, have since altered their headline removing the $72 million dollar figure from the text.
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