Just about everyone has received emails from a "Nigerian prince" or some other random individual promising great wealth if you pay them first. My personal favorites are the ones that I used to receive to my email address at the New Jersey Bureau of Securities - obviously fraudulent emails sent to people whose job it was to investigate fraud!
While that seemed funny at the time, the real take away probably should have been that the people on the other end of the email were so confident that they couldn't be stopped that they didn't care where they sent the email. And as their methods have become more sophisticated over the years, we have started to see more stories like this - well-run organizations falling for 6 figure scams because the perpetrators have become so good at mimicking actual business transactions and disguising the true sender of the email that they are nearly impossible to detect. Firm leadership needs to take affirmative steps to protect their companies from these types of attacks.
Amazingly, it was reported on February 28th that Barbara Corcoran was able to retrieve the money by working with the German bank to which the money was wired. This highly unusual happy ending doesn't change the analysis - it is still far better to take steps to avoid becoming a victim on the front end rather than rely on your ability to recover the money once it has left your account.
According to TMZ, an email chain was forwarded to Barbara's bookkeeper that appeared to show the reality TV star's executive assistant saying that Barbara had approved a $388,700.11 payment to a company called FFH Concept GmbH in Germany. * * * However, the bookkeeper didn't notice that the scammers changed the assistant's email address by removing one letter, so unbeknownst to her, they were the ones actually communicating.