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How a spelling mistake helped stop a $1 billion bank heist

Unknown hackers still managed to get away with about $80 million, one of the largest known bank thefts in history.


How a spelling mistake helped stop a $1 billion bank heist

A spelling mistake in an online bank transfer instruction helped prevent a nearly $1 billion heist last month involving the Bangladesh central bank and the New York Federal Reserve, banking officials said.

Unknown hackers still managed to get away with about $80 million, one of the largest known bank thefts in history.

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.

Hackers misspelled "foundation" in the NGO's name as "fandation", prompting a routing bank, Deutsche Bank, to seek clarification from the Bangladesh central bank, which stopped the transaction, one of the officials said.

There is no NGO under the name of Shalika Foundation in the list of registered Sri Lankan non-profits. Reuters could not immediately find contact information for the organization.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

At the same time, the unusually large number of payment instructions and the transfer requests to private entities - as opposed to other banks - raised suspicions at the Fed, which also alerted the Bangladeshis, the officials said.

The details of how the hacking came to light and was stopped before it did more damage have not been previously reported. Bangladesh Bank has billions of dollars in a current account with the Fed, which it uses for international settlements.

The transactions that were stopped totaled $850-$870 million, one of the officials said.

Last year, Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab said a multinational gang of cyber criminals had stolen as much as $1 billion from as many as 100 financial institutions around the world in about two years.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's son Qusay took $1 billion from Iraq's central bank on the orders of his father on the day before coalition forces began bombing the country in 2003, American and Iraqi officials have said. In 2007, guards at the Dar Es Salaam bank in Baghdad made off with $282 million.

 

From Zee News

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