Suspected “scroll thief” arrested in New York

An Italian man has been arrested in New York on suspicion of stealing unpublished manuscripts from hundreds of authors by pretending to be a publisher and literary agent, appearing in court in Manhattan on Thursday. He claims to be innocent. This was reported by Reuters news agency.

Filippo Bernardini, 29, was arrested at JFK Airport on Wednesday. Prosecutors say he has used fake identities and email addresses and registered more than 160 domain names since 2016, impersonating reputable publishers for authors. Among his victims are Margaret Atwood and Sally Rooney, as well as the Dutch writer Hannah Barefoots.

According to LinkedIn, Bernardini, an employee of Simon & Schuster publishers in London, fraudulently obtained hundreds of unpublished manuscripts. It is unclear what the suspect did with the manuscripts he received. There is no evidence that he tried to sell her or demand a ransom for her. Perhaps he wanted to steal the literary ideas of the authors. He was accused of fraud and identity theft.

‘Shocked and terrified’

In the domain names he registered, the letter “m” was often replaced by the letter “rn”, so, for example, “simonandschuster” was introduced as “sirnonandschuster”. Simon & Schuster UK said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “shocked and appalled” by the allegations. Bernardini Publishing House suspended. The company is not accused of involvement.

Prosecutors urged the judge to detain him for fear of his escape. However, he will be released on bail, with a bail of 300 thousand dollars (about 265 thousand euros). However, it is electronically monitored. If convicted, he could face up to 22 years in prison.

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