Mohammed Islam, the Queens high school student who allegedly made a staggering $72 million in stock deals, was one of the hottest stories of the week when it broke two days ago. But just like that, it’s coming out that the whole affair was nothing but a lie.
New York Magazine ran a list piece on Sunday which focused on reasons to love the city, with Islam’s story clocking in at 12. It was a fascinating read, detailing how the Stuyvesant High School led an investment club which started to grow a buzz late last year. By the time the magazine got a hold of Islam, he was already a budding celebrity on his way to creating his own hedge fund and trading his way to $72 million.
As it stands, the whole thing was blown up in an exclusive interview with the New York Observer that where Islam admitted he made the entire story up. Now a senior, Islam faced pressure to come clean after financial advisers and pundits began to weigh in on the improbability of his feat.
The Observer writes:
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.
The story’s traction notwithstanding, Islam and Tulemaganbetov are reeling from the fallout. Islam’s parents reportedly wanted to disown him, and the pair had to stay at a friend’s house as the news of their fabrication replaced the feel-good buzz of the $72 million tale.
If it sounds too good to be true, well, you know the rest.