$40,000 Swindle Places Highlight on Literary Prize Scams

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The literary prize scammers appear extra clearly motivated by cash. The fraudster concentrating on the British awards seem to make use of the identical method every time, emailing directors late at evening after the winners’ announcement, utilizing addresses that includes the creator’s full title adopted by the phrase “writes.” (Emails from The New York Instances to these addresses went unanswered.)

In addition to the Rathbones Folio and Baillie Gifford prizes, scammers additionally wrote to the organizers of the Encore Award final June; the Ahead Prizes for Poetry, in October; and the Society of Authors Translation Prizes, in February, the organizers of these awards mentioned. Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, had not been contacted, its director, Gaby Wooden, mentioned in an electronic mail. “Oddly sufficient, no try has been made,” she added.

Caroline Hen, a winner in final yr’s Ahead Prizes, mentioned in a phone interview that Britain’s literary scene was trusting and comfortable, and that the scammer was “intelligent” to take advantage of that. “It’s not the place you’d ever come throughout somebody on the rob,” Hen mentioned.

However a number of of the organizers who obtained the phishing emails mentioned they suspected the fraudster was concerned in British publishing, given the particular person knew who to contact and when to ship the messages. Mundy, of the Baillie Gifford Prize, mentioned he questioned whether or not the scammer is likely to be a disgruntled creator “who’d by no means received a prize and was livid about it, attempting to assert what’s rightfully theirs, by truthful means or foul.”

Did any authors come to thoughts? “There’s loads,” Mundy mentioned with fun. “However I’m not naming names.”

Few share that concept, although, for one easy cause: The emails lack a sure literary aptitude. “The prose was a bit lifeless, and there was no heat,” mentioned Patrick McGuinness, the winner of final yr’s Encore Award, who had been handed the scammer’s electronic mail. “As a literary critic, I’d say there was all the appropriate phrases, however not one of the fireplace.”

Brown, the Baillie Gifford winner, agreed. “I’m not considering, ‘My God, it’s Salman Rushdie,’” he mentioned. A broadcast creator would have put extra effort into the grammar, for starters, he added.

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