A Spelling Mistake Stopped a Billion Dollar Bank Heist

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The Bangladesh central bank was saved from a nearly £694 million bank heist thanks to a spelling mistake made in an online bank transfer. The unknown hackers were still able to get away with £55 million, one of the largest bank heists in history.

The theft occurred last month when hackers managed to secure the credentials for payment authorizations from Bangladesh Bank. Using these credentials the hackers made a series of requests to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York posing as the Bangladesh Bank. The near three dozen requests instructed that the money be moved to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Four requests totaling around £55 million went through, but there was an error with the fifth. This fifth request, for £15 million to a Sri Lanka non-profit organization, was held up because the hackers misspelled the name of the NGO, Shalika Foundation.

The hackers misspelled the word “foundation” as “fandation”. This prompted the routing bank, Deutsche Bank, to seek clarification from the Bangladesh Bank, stopping the transaction.

This error led to further investigation by the Bangladeshis and the Fed at the unusually high number of payment instructions and transfer requests to private entities. The banks eventually routed out and stopped the fraudulent requests, requests totaling somewhere between £590 million to £604 million.

The banks are working to recover the stolen funds, and the Bangladeshi government is talking about suing the Federal Reserve for not preventing the transactions from the beginning.

“We kept money with the Federal Reserve Bank and irregularities must be with the people who handle the funds there. It can’t be that they don’t have any responsibility,” said Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith.

Efforts to retrieve all of the stolen funds will be difficult however. It has been reported that the stolen money was first transferred to foreign exchange dealers, then to casinos, where it was converted to chips and then into cash.

If any of our readers are currently working on any criminal schemes, we encourage you to remember to press spell check before enacting your master plan.