A much-publicized story published in the New York Magazine featuring a 17-year-old trader that has already made $72 million is turning out to be a hoax.
A story on Stuyvesant High School senior Mohammed Islam was written by Jessica Pressler for her feature article entitled Reasons to Love New York. The story was published by the New York Post on the front page of its Sunday edition.
The story quickly took a spot among the most popular stories in social media. However, as rapidly as it gained popularity, the story is just as quickly falling apart.
An interview that was published in the New York Observer on Monday night included Islam's admission that the story was fabricated, and that the teenager has never made any real returns on investments.
Pressler, however, defended her article, stating the piece that she wrote was skeptical in nature. "The story says, 'This is a rumor and draw your own conclusions,'" Pressler said.
Pressler later confirmed that the net worth of Islam is somewhere in the "high eight figures," adding that the teenager showed a bank statement to the fact checker of the publication.
According to Pressler, the issue was due to the original headline of her piece which read "A Stuyvesant senior made $72 million trading stocks on his lunch break," which she said was very glib. The headline has been modified to read "Because a Stuyvesant Senior Made Millions Picking Stocks. His Hedge Fund Opens as Soon As He Turns 18."
A report by Business Insider revealed that the supposed figure of Islam's worth was "off the mark," citing an anonymous source that is familiar with the issue. In addition, the Investment Club in Islam's school revealed to Business Insider that after performing due diligence, the group discovered that the claims on Islam's supposed $72 million earnings are false, and that it had only been hyped up by media for sensationalism.
Islam himself told CNBC that he doesn't know how the rumor of his supposed worth started, adding that Pressler's article portrayed him as a person that he is not.
"The attention is not what we expected - we never wanted the hype. This was about friends trying to make something exciting together," Islam said.
Pressler, however, thinks that the story is still worth doing as she focuses on the initial point of her article, the reasons to love New York.
Pressler said that only in New York can teenagers chase such big dreams of succeeding in the stock market.