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Thriller solved? FBI arrest suspect in manuscript theft rip-off

Thriller solved? FBI arrest suspect in manuscript theft rip-off

NEW YORK (AFP) – A thriller that has shaken the literary world for years – the theft of lots of of unpublished manuscripts from distinguished authors – could lastly be about to be solved.

In New York final week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Filippo Bernardini, a 29-year-old Italian worker of main writer Simon & Schuster.

He’s accused of impersonating literary brokers and publishers over e mail to steal unpublished works from writers and their representatives.

The alleged rip-off had been identified in literary circles for round 5 years with Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Sally Rooney among the many novelists reportedly focused.

Bernardini was arraigned in court docket in Manhattan final Thursday after being arrested by brokers at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport the day earlier than.

He has been charged with committing wire fraud and identification theft between 2016 and 2021, crimes punishable by 22 years in jail.

“Filippo Bernardini allegedly impersonated publishing trade people with the intention to have authors, together with a Pulitzer prize winner, ship him pre-publication manuscripts for his personal profit,” stated American prosecutor Damian Williams.

“This real-life storyline now reads as a cautionary story, with the plot twist of Bernardini going through federal prison prices for his misdeeds,” he added in a press release.

Bernardini pleaded not responsible and was launched below “dwelling detention” with a US$300,000 (S$407,000) bond secured on his dwelling, a spokesman for the Southern District of New York advised AFP.

Bernardini labored in London for Simon & Schuster, which stated in a press release it was “shocked and horrified to study of the allegations.”

“The worker has been suspended pending additional info on the case,” the writer stated in a press release.

“The safekeeping of our authors’ mental property is of main significance to Simon & Schuster, and for all within the publishing trade, and we’re grateful to the FBI for investigating these incidents and bringing prices towards the alleged perpetrator,” it added.

Unknown motive

Prosecutors say the suspect’s modus operandi was nicely established. He would impersonate actual individuals on this planet of publishing by sending emails from pretend accounts.

The addresses could be made to resemble the domains of reputable publishers however with a letter modified right here and there. The indictment accuses him of registering greater than 160 fraudulent domains.

What baffled alleged victims was that the thefts had been by no means adopted by calls for for cash, nor did the works ever appear to seem on-line or on the darkish net.

In 2019, Atwood’s agent revealed that the manuscript for The Testaments had been focused.

Final 12 months, New York Journal reported that the Swedish editors of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium collection had been approached by a purported colleague in Italy who requested an advance copy in order that it might be translated earlier than launch.

A New York Instances investigation on the finish of 2020 discovered that Regular Individuals writer Rooney, Atonement writer McEwan, and actor Ethan Hawke had additionally been focused.

Little is thought about Bernardini. Screenshots from a LinkedIn profile that was inaccessible final Friday described him as a “rights coordinator” at Simon & Schuster.

The biography stated he obtained a bachelors in Chinese language Language in Milan and a masters in publishing from College Faculty London owing to his “obsession for the written phrase and languages”.

One factor of the story prosecutors hope to search out out is what the accused’s motivations may need been because the indictment doesn’t point out whether or not he made any monetary revenue from the alleged thefts.

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