The mystery of over a thousand missing manuscripts has finally been solved, The Guardian reported. An Italian, Filippo Bernardini, 30, has confessed to having collected the manuscripts via unscrupulous means which brings to an end a case that has been troubling the investigators for years now. Filippo Bernardini used his experience working with renowned publisher Simon & Schuster in London to reach out to reputed publishers or their agents and falsely convince them to share their latest literary pieces with him. Among the authors Bernardini targeted include Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, and Sally Rooney, among others.
All of it started back in 2016 though, interestingly, none of the manuscripts has ever been published so far or has been put up for sale, even on the dark web. None of the authors reported having received ransom calls as well. The modus operandi was simple. Bernardini would use fake e-mail IDs that resembled renowned publishers but with some of the letters changed. Prosecutors said they have come across more than 160 fake e-mail accounts that Bernardini would use to reach out to the authors or their representatives.
Having been associated with the publishing industry for years provided Bernardini with enough expertise to convince the authors and steal manuscripts of their unpublished works. It is not clear what the real motive behind the series of thefts was. What is evident already is that Bernardini has never been in a hurry to make money using the stolen manuscripts right away. Perhaps he was readying himself for the long haul, waiting till the investigators lose interest in the case before coming out with the manuscripts, or whatever.
Simon & Schuster, on its part, said they have been shocked with the development given their strong commitment towards upholding the intellectual rights of the authors. It also extended its gratefulness to the FBI and the Department of Justice for being able to get to the bottom of a case that is as baffling as it is interesting. Bernardini has been suspended by the company while Simon & Schuster has also been cleared of any wrongdoing. Bernardini however described his job profile as rights co-ordinator at Simon & Schuster UK at the time of his arrest.
As things stand at the moment, the federal prosecutors in New York have said Bernardini has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud even though he had initially pleaded not guilty. He will be sentenced on April 5 which can include a jail term of up to a maximum of 20 years.
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