[Editor’s note: See story update below.]
Well, here’s a creative way to make your college application stand out: Mohammed Islam, a senior at New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, has become a local celebrity with the publication of a profile in New York magazine that claims he’s made $72 million by trading stocks and other securities in between classes, homework, and extracurricular activities.
Islam, who also appeared on Business Insider‘s 20 under 20 list last year, says he has been trading stocks since he was 9, having been taught by an older cousin who now works at Goldman Sachs. Though he started off trading penny stocks, Islam says he’s made millions since then by betting on gold and crude oil futures, as well as small- and mid-cap stocks.
Depending on your perspective, this story could be read as an inspiring tale about the child of Bengali immigrants beating the odds. Or as a worrisome example of how Wolf of Wall Street-worship — along with a taste for bottle service, models, and BMWs — is corrupting our youth.
If the story is actually true — Islam told New York that his net worth is in the “high eight figures,” but it’s not clear where the $72 million figure came from and no documentation of his profits has yet appeared — it would be interesting to know a little something about his trading strategy. We’ll update if and when we hear from him; so far, Islam has not yet responded to our messages sent via Facebook.
Update: On December 15, Islam told CNBC’s Scott Wapner that he didn’t actually make $72 million trading; that he doesn’t know where the figure came from; that he in fact has made “a few million dollars” trading; and that he is uncomfortable with the way he was portrayed in New York. “The attention is not what we expected,” he told Wapner. “We never wanted the hype.” Later in the day, Islam admitted to New York Observer editor (and former MONEY columnist) Ken Kurson that he pretty much made up the whole story. In this December 16 article, I explain why nobody should have believed the story in the first place.