Color Us Fucking Stupid. Teen Did NOT Make $72 Million Trading Stocks During School

by 4 years ago  •  3 Comments


Yesterday, I brought you the story of Mohammed Islam, the 17-year-old kid who, according to New York Magazine, made $72 million trading penny stocks during class.

I didn’t think twice about publishing it because 1. It was in a reputable magazine; 2. We recently published a story about another kid, so this seemed like a logical advancement; 3. On Sunday I take whatever content I can get and; 4. I am a writer. The stock market is as foreign to me as a cell phone is to a cow.

So I ran the thing and almost immediately got a couple emails calling it bullshit. The most thorough rebuttal came from a trader who sent me some interesting points.

1) Apparently, he invested mainly in penny stocks and made money. Most penny stocks are borderline fraud. By that I mean, there is almost zero to no coverage of these penny stocks and there is no way you even know if the company is legit or scam. Making money once, twice or even thrice is perhaps possible but making every time from pennystock is just not possible.

2) Let’s say that even if everything fell in place and he was just a lucky kid. At best, the market gives a 25% return and assuming he started at the age of 10. This means to get $72 million, he must have at least $15 million to start with. Which 10 year old kid has that much money?

3) Assuming that the kid had $10 million at the age of 10, making $72 million would require a 32% of stock market return. Even big firms which employ MIT & Harvard guys fail to give even 10% of guaranteed return every year.

As I know nothing about finance, these arguments also sounded legit. CONNUNDRUM. But today Islam claims that not only is the figure not true, he never said he made that much money. From CNBC:

Mohammed Islam, the alleged teenaged prodigy, said he had no idea where that dollar figure came from and that it’s not accurate.

Instead the figure is believed to be a few million dollars, but Mr. Islam declined to be more specific.

“The attention is not what we expected – we never wanted the hype. This was about friends trying to make something exciting together, ” Mr. Islam said in an exclusive CNBC interview.

Ha. I bet that teen lied. But whatever. New York Magazine, who originally reported the story, stands by it:

“The article portrays the $72 million figure only as a rumor; we changed the headline on the story to reflect more clearly the fact that we did not know the exact figure of how much he had made in trades. The story itself does not specify an amount. However, Mohammed provided bank statements that showed he is worth eight figures; he confirmed on the record that he’s worth eight figures.”

This is neither the first, nor the last, time a writer will be duped about money. That shit’s tricky and we are one side of the brain (forget if it’s left or right) and the money people are the other side. Like oil and water.

Anyhoo. Sorries! Please keep reading our web content. It’s usually pretty good.


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