A man has admitted stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts from prominent authors said to include Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood and Sally Rooney.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Filippo Bernardini, an Italian national who worked for London-based publisher Simon & Schuster UK, carried out the elaborate scam between August 2016 and January 2022.
He used fake email accounts to pose as real people in the literary world to defraud authors of their manuscripts, the office said.
But why he did so is unclear.
Bernardini, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and could face up to 21 months in prison, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Filippo Bernardini used his insider knowledge of the publishing industry to devise a plan to steal valuable works from authors and threaten the publishing industry.”
Among those duped was a Pulitzer Prize winner who sent Bernardini a copy of their unpublished manuscript, according to the indictment.
Bernardini did this by impersonating a well-known Simon & Schuster editor.
The victim is thought to have been confused by the fact that a demand for money was never made and the manuscript never appears to have appeared online.
Bernardini was arrested in January 2022. A Simon & Schuster representative said at the time they were “shocked and horrified” by the allegations and thanked the FBI for investigating the case.
In addition to any jail time, Bernardini will pay $88,000 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.