The viral story about the kid who earned $72 million trading stocks immediately set off Twitchy’s BS detector. Now comes word that the subject of the story, a Stuyvesant High School student named Mohammed Islam, declined to speak to a reporter who was trying to confirm the basic facts being reported. When the reporter asked Islam’s partner if he would deny the $72 million figure, he said, “Let me put it this way … it’s stated as a rumor.” The partner also declined to provide audited numbers or profit and loss statements:

Business Insider asked for audited numbers or P&L statements to prove that Islam’s networth is close to $72 million. Tulemaganbetov refused.

Islam himself did not respond to our email this morning requesting the numbers. He also would not get on the phone when Business Insider learned he was riding in the car to CNBC.

Meanwhile, the Leaders Investment Club, of which Islam is reportedly a member, has released this statement:

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.


The Leaders Investment Club Community

[Emphasis added.]

In short, the $72 million figure is complete B.S. But if you’ve been reading Twitchy today, you already knew that.

The phony story has been repeated by countless MSM outlets, including MarketWatch, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, Fox News, and the Daily Mail. It has also been tweeted by at least 10 reporters, many of whom are financial journalists who should know better.

The reporter who first mentioned the $72 million figure, Jessica Pressler,  is standing by her work, but not her article’s headline:

She also RT’d this:

headline writer RT

So it’s all the headline writer’s fault. We wonder if the headline writer was responsible for this tweet, which appeared on Pressler’s feed yesterday:

Speaking of the headline, it has changed. This morning it said, “Because a Stuyvesant Senior Made $72 Million Trading Stocks on His Lunch Break.” Now it says, “Because a Stuyvesant Senior Made Millions Picking Stocks. His Hedge Fund Opens as Soon As He Turns 18.”

headline has changed

So “millions” instead of $72 million. (Has the new figure been checked or is this another “rumor”?) And no mention of trading stocks during his lunch break. OK then.

Twitchy has not yet determined whether changes have been made to the body of Pressler’s article. As of this writing, the article does not include a correction or retraction.

Real journalism. Ain’t it grand?


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