The literary prize scammers appear extra clearly motivated by cash. The fraudster focusing 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 Times to these addresses went unanswered.)

As nicely because the Rathbones Folio and Baillie Gifford prizes, scammers additionally wrote to the organizers of the Encore Award final June; the Forward 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 Wood, mentioned in an electronic mail. “Oddly enough, no attempt has been made,” she added.

Caroline Bird, a winner in final yr’s Forward Prizes, mentioned in a phone interview that Britain’s literary scene was trusting and comfy, and that the scammer was “clever” to take advantage of that. “It’s not the place you’d ever come across someone on the rob,” Bird mentioned.

But a number of of the organizers who acquired 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 puzzled whether or not the scammer could be a disgruntled creator “who’d never won a prize and was furious about it, trying to claim what’s rightfully theirs, by fair means or foul.”

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

Few share that concept, although, for one easy purpose: The emails lack a sure literary aptitude. “The prose was a bit dead, and there was no warmth,” 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 would say there was all the right words, but none of the fire.”

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

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