Filippo Bernardini, 29, of London, was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday, accused of having impersonated hundreds of agents, editors and other publishing professionals online in order to obtain unpublished manuscripts for novels and other books, five years after authors and publishers began finding themselves targeted by mysterious phishing attempts.
Bernardini was charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison, according to a DOJ release.
Charges were leveled against Bernardini in connection to a multi-year plot to obtain hundreds of unpublished manuscripts by impersonating publishing professionals using fake email accounts, according to the release, which also pointed out that manuscript piracy can undermine secondary markets for published work and can harm an author’s reputation.
Bernardini is accused of having registered over 160 web domains to create email addresses that were misleadingly similar to publishing professionals’ actual email addresses, using typographical tricks like substituting the letters “r” and “n” for the letter “m.”
Around September 2020, Bernardini tricked an unnamed Pulitzer Prize-winning author into emailing him a copy of the author’s forthcoming manuscript by…