A man has admitted to stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts from distinguished authors, including Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood and Sally Rooney.
Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who worked for publisher Simon & Schuster UK in London, committed elaborate deceptions between August 2016 and January 2022, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said.
He used fake email accounts to impersonate real people in the literary world to trick manuscript authors, the office said.
But why he did so remains unclear.
Bernardini, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, prosecutors said, and could face up to 21 months in prison.
“Filippo Bernardini used his insider knowledge of the publishing industry to create a scheme that stole valuable works from authors and threatened the publishing industry,” US attorney Damian Williams said.
Among those deceived was a Pulitzer Prize winner, who sent Bernardini a copy of their unpublished manuscript, according to an indictment.
Bernardini did this by impersonating a well-known publisher of Simon & Schuster.
The victims are believed to have been puzzled by the fact that no requests for money were ever made and the manuscripts never appeared to appear online.
Bernardini was arrested in January 2022. A representative for Simon & Schuster said at the time that they were “shocked and horrified” to learn of the allegations, and were grateful to the FBI for investigating the affair.
In addition to any jail time, Bernardini will also pay $88,000 in restitution, the US attorney’s office said.