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Man arrested at JFK Airport is accused of impersonating people in the publishing industry to obtain unpublished manuscripts

By Sahar Akbarzai, CNN

An Italian citizen who allegedly impersonated people in the publishing industry to get manuscripts of upcoming books, including one from a Pulitzer Prize winner, was arrested Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a federal prosecutor’s office announced.

Filippo Bernardini, 29, who is from London and works in the publishing industry, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. It was not immediately clear if Bernardini has an attorney.

In 2016, Bernardini allegedly began creating fake email accounts and registered more than 160 internet domains that were purposefully crafted to be confusingly similar to real entities, according to the indictment. Minor typographical errors were allegedly utilized by Bernardini in creating his fake accounts, which made it challenging for recipients to identify them.

“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 Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in a news release.

“We allege Mr. Bernardini used his insider knowledge of the industry to get authors to send him their unpublished books and texts,” said Michael J. Driscoll, the assistant director-in-charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Such pirating can also undermine the secondary markets for published work, such as film and television, and can harm an author’s reputation where an early draft of written material is distributed in a working form that is not in a finished state,” the release said.

Bernardini was set to appear Thursday in federal court in Manhattan.

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CNN’s Brian Vitagliano contributed to this report.

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