Last week, the FBI arrested Filippo Bernardini, and I think this arrest finally solves a mystery that has been puzzling me for about a year and a half. Filippo Bernardini was a 29-year-old rights coordinator for Simon & Schuster UK who succeeded in stealing unpublished manuscripts from several successful authors, but also from lesser known writers. Reading his story, I am 99% sure that the mysterious Mr. Jones I have been blogging about last year was none other than Bernardini.
While trying to convince a publisher to consider my book Entreprenerd, I found this profile on LinkedIn:
Today, this profile no longer exists. I think it was removed after a complaint by Penguin Random House, but when I discovered it, I couldn't resist the temptation to connect with this person who claimed being an acquisition manager at one of the "Big Five." I knew that publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, but I decided to get in touch with this Robin Jones anyway.
There were several red flags. For starters, Robin Jones only had 29 connections on LinkedIn. There was a high chance the profile was fake. The biggest red flag was when Robin Jones claimed that I shouldn't bother engaging a literary agent (the grammatical errors in the message are authentic):
No need to look for a Literary agents aside from you will pay them for extra fees, you won't know if they are reliable or someone who is affiliated with Traditional Publishers like Penguin Random House.
That's something an acquisition manager at PRH would never say. Despite the many red flags, I kept the conversation going for as long as possible as I was curious to find out why this mysterious Mr. Jones was trying to convince me that PRH was eager to publish my book. Unfortunately, I never found out. I got bored with Mr. Jones and when I shared a draft of the article I was about to publish about him, he disconnected on LinkedIn.After I shared the story with someone who actually works at Penguin Random House, his profile disappeared completely.