Fraudster pleads guilty in phishing plot that duped authors, including Atwood


A years lengthy saga that ensnared the publishing world culminated in a New York courtroom on Friday when a con artist pleaded guilty to a plot that defrauded scores of authors by duping them into handing over a whole lot of unpublished manuscripts.

Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who had been working in publishing in London, pleaded guilty to a single rely of wire fraud in reference to a phishing scheme that baffled the guide world for years.

The announcement was made by the US lawyer for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, who mentioned Bernardini is about to be sentenced April 5 earlier than earlier than US District Judge Colleen McMahon.

“Filippo Bernardini used his insider data of the publishing business to create a scheme that stole treasured works from authors and menaced the publishing business,” Williams mentioned in an announcement.

Authorities say Bernardini, 30, used electronic mail accounts to impersonate literary brokers and editors to con authors out of their manuscripts.

“Through impersonation and phishing schemes, Bernardini was in a position to get hold of greater than a thousand manuscripts fraudulently,” Williams mentioned.

Bernardini, who hasn’t publicly defined his motives, faces a most sentence of 20 years in jail. As a part of his guilty plea, he agreed to pay restitution of US$88,000 (RM388,000).

Authorities say the scheme started someday round August of 2016 and continued till final January, when he was arrested.

Bernardini created faux electronic mail accounts by registering greater than 160 web domains that, prosecutors mentioned, “had been confusingly just like the actual entities that they had been impersonating, including solely minor typographical errors that could be tough for the common recipient to establish throughout a cursory evaluate.”

He impersonated a whole lot of individuals over the course of the scheme, acquiring greater than a thousand manuscripts via his deceit.

Works by Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke had been amongst these focused.

What made the plot extra mystifying was that no makes an attempt had been apparently made to promote the stolen manuscripts.

In the indictment, Bernardini was described as working in London for a “main, worldwide, US-based publishing home.” A LinkedIn profile for a Filippo B. mentioned he labored for Simon & Schuster, which had mentioned that it was “shocked and horrified” by the fraud. – AP

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