Italian Denies Literary Wire Fraud
An Italian citizen, employed in London’s publishing industry, has refuted charges that he fraudulently obtained unpublished manuscripts by impersonating other people online.
The United States Department of Justice unsealed an indictment on January 5 accusing 29-year-old Filippo Bernardini of using digital deception to amass the unpublished manuscripts of hundreds of books.
“Filippo Bernardini allegedly impersonated publishing industry individuals in order to have authors, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, send him prepublication manuscripts for his own benefit,” said US attorney Damian Williams.
It is alleged that from at least August 2016 through July 2021, Bernardini created fake email accounts which he used to impersonate genuine literary talent agencies, publishing houses and literary scouts.
“Bernardini created these accounts by registering more than 160 internet domains that were crafted to be confusingly similar to the real entities that they were impersonating, including only minor typographical errors that would be difficult for the average recipient to identity during a cursory review,” said the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in a statement.
One tactic allegedly employed by Bernardini was to replace the letter’ m’ used in a genuine domain name with the lower-case letters’ r’ and ‘n’ when registering a look-alike domain.