Manuscript Theft

This post includes the article which appeared on the Daily Telegraph on 23 December 2020 with the title ‘Scammers Using Every Trick in the Book to Steal Writers’ Work’. It was written by Nick Allen who is the Washington, DC editor of The Telegraph.

Nick Allen

“The publishing world has been bamboozled by an email scam in which a mysterious thief is stealing unpublished manuscripts. Famous and aspiring authors have been targeted with fake emails in an attempt to trick them into sending their work.

“Victims said the perpetrator appears to be an expert, using terms commonly used only in publishing. But the motive remained unclear as there did not appear to be any attempt to profit from the manuscripts.

“The mysterious scam artist has impersonated agents, publishers and editors over the last three years.

“So-called ‘phishing’ emails to authors have been reported in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Those targeted include Margaret Atwood and the Hollywood star and writer Ethan Hawke. Author James Hannahan this month send his unpublished novel about a transgender woman to someone pretending to be his publisher.

“The New York Times explored the black market and the ‘dark web’ but found no evidence that manuscripts were being published or offered for sale there. It appeared that there had also been no attempts to extort money from authors or publishers.

“Catherine Eccles, who owns a literary scouting agency in London, told the newspaper: ‘They know who our clients are, they know how we interact with our clients, where sub-agents fit in and where primary agents fit in.’ She added: ‘They’re very, very good.’

“Last year, Margaret Atwood revealed that there had been a ‘phishing’ effort to steal her manuscript for The Testaments’, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. At the time, she described it as an attempted robbery. She said: ‘People are trying to steal it. Really, they’re trying to steal it and we had to use a lot of code words and passwords.'”

I can tell you that no one has tried to steal any of my manuscripts (although the publicity might be quite helpful).

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