The burly kid on the right, Mohammed Islam, claimed to have made $72 million in the stock market. The media ran with the story, including Sophisticated Black Twitter, who tweeted the story with captions like, "While you were working on your mixtape..." (ol' bougie Neeegros). I thought it all sounded shady because the media reports never mentioned seed money. You don't make tens of millions of dollar in the stock market in a short time unless you have millions of dollars to invest with, which the media must have assumed he did because he's Arab-American. From The New York Observer:
Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”
And now it turns out, the real number is … zero.
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.