In December 2020, the book world couldn’t stop talking about a seriously weird publishing story: A scammer lured authors to send copies of their unpublished manuscripts.

Now, just over a year later, the story has taken another unexpected turn. The FBI arrested an Italian man, Filippo Bernardini, in connection with the case New York Times reports† Simon Schuster UK employee was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport.

The alleged scam was bizarre, in which someone posing as a figure in the publishing industry contacted authors from misleading email addresses and asked them to send copies of their current works.

Authors covered by the plan included big names like Ethan Hawke, Margaret Atwood, Michael J. Fox and Ian McEwan, as well as emerging writers such as Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Kiley Reid. The motive for the alleged phishing scam remains unclear; none of the manuscripts appear to have been offered for sale online.

In a press release, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York revealed that Bernardini is charged with two charges: wire transfer fraud and aggravated identity theft. The fraud charge, the more serious of the two, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Michael J. Driscoll, the deputy director of the FBI’s New York office, said, “Unpublished manuscripts are works of art for the writers who spend the time and energy creating them. Publishers do everything they can to avoid them.” -published pieces for their value. Bernardini reportedly tried to steal the literary ideas of others for himself, but was ultimately not creative enough to get away with them.”

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and a regular contributor to NPR.