US police have arrested an Italian who allegedly stole manuscripts of unpublished books for years. The man had set up a phishing network for this.
The Italian, F. Bernardini, was detained at JFK International Airport in New York. , he used a range of different accounts and websites to impersonate literary agents, editors, and other publishing house employees.
He approached writers through multiple phishing accounts to get them manuscripts for unpublished work. According to newspapers The Guardian and De Standaard, the authors included Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and Saskia de Coster, and the authors approached.
Bernardini used to work for the London publishing house Simon & Schuster, but it is not clear what he did with the manuscripts. The practice is said to have been going on since August 2016, with Bernardini allegedly counterfeiting more than 160 domain names of literary agents and publishers to send emails from there.
He is also said to have stolen login details from a literary scouting agent to get more information about upcoming books on his site. If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison.