$1B Bank Heist Thwarted by ... a Typo

Hackers still made off with $81M, say officials
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2016 8:04 AM CST
Updated Mar 13, 2016 9:41 AM CDT
$1B Bank Heist Thwarted by ... a Typo
Police cars and pedestrians pass the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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. 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.

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. (This very public typo was less costly but still a little embarrassing.)

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