Technology

$1bn Bank Heist Foiled By A Rather Hilarious Mistake

March 12, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: Hurst Photo/Shutterstock

When there’s billions of dollars on the table and you’ve been snooping around the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, make sure you have your spell checker turned on.

During a series of online heists on Bangladesh’s central bank last month, sloppy spelling cost hackers millions and millions of dollars, Reuters reports.

After stealing information from Bangladesh Bank, the unknown hackers sent requests to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to allow them to move money from Bangladesh Bank to accounts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

They managed to make a series of four transfers to the Philippines, amounting to a total of $80 million. The hackers had a whole series of other transactions lined up and ready to go. But, when they came to the fifth transaction of $20 million to a made-up Sri Lankan NGO called Shalika Foundation, something fishy flagged up.

Within the transaction, the hackers misspelt “Foundation” as “Fandation.” The routing bank, Deutsche Bank, quickly noticed something was wrong and informed Bangladesh Bank, who promptly stopped the transfer. If the rest of the hackers' transactions had gone through, they would have got their hands on around $1 billion.

The successfully stolen $80 million remains lost and at-large – still making the fraud one of the biggest bank thefts in history. VICE News reports that the money that entered the Philippines was transferred to three Filipino casinos. Here, it was converted into chips then changed back in cash, and even finally sent to Hong Kong-based bank accounts. 

VICE News went on to say that Shamim Ahamad, press minister at the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, has since released a statement saying that Bangladesh needs to address its poor level of cybersecurity, and that the missing money is being investigated.

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