The beginning of 2022 for the book publishing world begins with plotting and scheming that reads straight out of a crime novel. On Wednesday, January 9th, the FBI arrested a man at JFK Airport on charges of wire fraud and identity theft. According to The New York Times, Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen, ran a five-year scheme targeting the publishing industry.
Bernardini’s years-long scheme largely included “impersonating the online personas and email accounts of a variety of people on the inside of the industry to get access to unpublished manuscripts.” His notable targets include a memoir by Ethan Hawke and Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
He is still under FBI investigation, and his motives are unclear. It is an unusual and specific crime to commit—to target a specific industry in such a way while interestingly enough, not bothering with any sort of ransom demand. According to AV Club, a suggested motive could involve initiation practices and rituals for a cybercriminal gang however, this seems to be unlikely as Bernardini conducted a literal time-consuming and particular scheme. Regardless of the motives, this is unheard of and an unusual crime within the publishing industry that will undoubtedly unravel with interesting turns.