A man has admitted stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts from well-known authors including Ian Macon, Margaret Atwood and Sally Rooney.
Filippo Bernardini, an Italian national who worked for publisher Simon & Schuster UK in London, committed extensive fraud between August 2016 and January 2022, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said.
The office said he used fake email accounts to impersonate real people in the literary world to trick authors out of manuscripts.
But why he did so is not clear.
Bernardini, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and faces up to 21 months in prison, prosecutors said.
“Filippo Bernardini used his inside knowledge of the publishing industry to create a scheme that stole valuable work from authors and put the publishing industry at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
Among the fraudsters was a Pulitzer Prize winner, who sent Bernardini a copy of his unpublished manuscript, according to an indictment.
Bernardini did this by impersonating a prominent Simon & Schuster editor.
The victims are believed to have been upset by the fact that no demand for money was ever made and the prescriptions never appeared online.
Bernardini was arrested in January 2022. A Simon & Schuster representative said at the time that he was “shocked and horrified” to learn of the allegations, and that he was grateful for the FBI’s investigation into the case.
In addition to any jail time, Bernardini will also pay $88,000 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
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