(HorizonPost.com) – Simon & Schuster is a well-known book publishing company established in 1924 to bring people’s stories to the world. Unfortunately, one of its employees, Filippo Bernardini, allegedly decided to take hundreds of unpublished writers’ manuscripts and try to pass them off as his work. The man was a low-level rights coordinator with the company who had access to the works and enough knowledge of the industry to almost pull it off. However, the FBI caught on to his scheme and arrested him on January 5 at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.
Details of the Heist
The FBI accused Bernardini of impersonating editors and agents through fake emails and domain names to steal the work of famous authors. He reportedly created email addresses for himself that resembled well-known people and companies in the industry by changing or adding a letter the recipient might not notice before responding.
The FBI alleged he then intended to publish the writings as his work to reap the rewards. According to US Attorney Damian Williams, he even fooled such big names as Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke for their active manuscripts.
Evidently, the scam started back in 2016, stumping many in the industry who dubbed Bernardini “The Spine Collector” for gathering unpublished works and making them vanish. Many suspected their words would reappear somewhere on the internet, but they were simply never found again – until now.
Facing the Consequences
The charges against Bernardini so far include wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The fraud charge could land him in federal prison for up to 20 years. He was on the schedule to face a federal judge in court on January 6 in Manhattan, where the publishing company hopes to learn more about the perpetrator’s motivation beyond his literary shortcomings.
Simon & Schuster spoke out publicly through a spokeswoman stating its shock and horror about Bernardini’s actions and its gratitude to the FBI for catching the alleged thief. Fortunately for the authors and the publishing company, the manuscripts are still unpublished and were not found anywhere on the internet.
The company released a statement indicating it had no knowledge of Bernardini’s deeds over the years. Simon & Schuster also relayed how important it is to them to safeguard authors’ intellectual property. Will the company will make internal changes to prevent a similar incident from happening again?
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