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Hackers helped themselves to $81 million from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last month—but the massive theft could have been far worse if not for a typo, reports Reuters:

The hackers breached Bangladesh Bank‘s systems and stole its credentials for payment transfers, two senior officials at the bank said. They then bombarded the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with nearly three dozen requests to move money from the Bangladesh Bank’s account there to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the officials said.

Four requests to transfer a total of about $81 million to the Philippines went through, but a fifth, for $20 million, to a Sri Lankan non-profit organization was held up because the hackers misspelled the name of the NGO, Shalika Foundation.

Investigators say the heist began when the hackers breached the security systems of Bangladesh Bank and then, posing as the Bangladeshi bankers, requested dozens of large transfers from the New York Fed. About $81 million had gone through to entities in the Philippines before red flags up went because the hackers had written “fandation” instead of “foundation” on one of the transfers. Routing bank Deutsche Bank caught the error, got suspicious, and alerted the Bangladesh central bank, which put a stop to the transfer. In total, hackers had put in almost three dozen transfer requests and planned to steal another $850 million to $870 million.

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A Bangladeshi official tells the Wall Street Journal that “some” money has been recovered, but the hackers—who experts suspect are from outside Bangladesh and spied on bank workers to gain information on the bank’s systems—remain at large. The Fed, however, may face consequences. Bangladesh’s finance minister says the country is considering a lawsuit against the American bank for not stopping the transactions earlier. “We kept money with the Federal Reserve Bank and irregularities must be with the people who handle the funds there,” he tells Bloomberg. “It can’t be that they don’t have any responsibility.” A rep for the Fed says “the payment instructions in question were fully authenticated” by money-transfer system SWIFT.

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How A Hacker’s Typo Helped Stop A $1 Billion Dollar Bank Heist

 

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