Puzzling phishing attacks on the book industry: suspect arrested

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In the USA a puzzling series of attacks on the book industry is evidently about to be investigated. A 29-year-old British man from London was arrested on Wednesday when he entered the United States. He works for the Simon & Schuster publishing house and is believed to be responsible for the extensive phishing attacks. Over a period of five years he is said to have come across hundreds of unpublished book manuscripts, explains the US Department of Justice. His goal was to “steal literary ideas, but in the end he wasn’t creative enough to get away with it.” His employer is “shocked and appalled,” quoted the New York Times.

Details about the attacks became public at the end of 2020, when the New York Times reported that the book industry was puzzled. With extremely well-crafted, false e-mails and immense effort, strangers manage to get manuscripts of unpublished books. The emails would have looked deceptively real and seemed to come from an editor, for example. Technical terms and abbreviations from the industry are also included in the texts and thus complete the deception.

In the Notice from the US Department of Justice it is now said that the suspect is said to have registered more than 160 Internet domains that were specifically designed to be confused with real ones – for example “penguinrando”rnhouse.com “instead of” penguinrandomhouse.com “. They were then used for e-mails. In some cases, he also made complete copies of Internet pages, referred target persons to them and accessed login information.

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According to the New York Times World-famous authors such as Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke were affected by the attacks as much as those who had not yet published a work. None of the works seemed to end up on the Darknet, and no financial value at all seemed conceivable for titles by unknown authors. It had been speculated that it was about information related to the works – for example because a lot of money can be made from selling rights for film adaptations.

According to law enforcement agencies, that was apparently not the motive. In view of the immense effort that the suspect seems to have put in for years, doubts remain about the attempt to explain “theft of literary ideas”. The man now faces years of imprisonment if the allegations of post and telecommunications fraud and serious identity theft are proven.


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