This story isn’t quite as dramatic as if the Feds had managed to reverse tens of thousands of separate Bitcoin (BTC) transactions used in a global online scam to defraud tens of thousands of separate and vulnerable victims…

…but it’s spectacular nevertheless, given that the stolen-but-recovered amount came to BTC 3,879.16, which worked out as a remarkable $189,568,730.46 at the rate quoted this afternoon by one online source. (Rates subject to change; transaction fees may apply; your mileage may vary.)

The victim in this case was the Sony Life Insurance Company Limited (yes, that Sony), which was allegedly defrauded of this enormous sum in an audacious internal scam that was apparently pulled off by a single employee.

The US Department of Justice claims that a certain Mr Rei Ishii conducted a classic “send funds to a different account” scam.

That’s the same sort of thing that external cybercriminals try to pull off by hacking into one or more company email accounts in an attack known as Business Email Compromise (BEC).

By keeping their eyes on insider emails – the crooks try really hard to crack high-ranking accounts such as the CEO’s or the CFO’s, which is why BEC is often referred to as CEO fraud – and picking the right moment to intervene with instructions to change payment details…

…these criminals often get away with hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars, conducting what is more of a social engineering confidence trick than a typical cybersecurity breach.