Misspelling Foils Hackers’ $800 Million Cyberheist

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Go slow and always proofread. Photo: Matt Benoit/Getty Images

An $800 million computer hack had everything going for it but a proofreader. Reuters is reporting that a simple spelling error was the only thing that stopped thieves from snatching the better part of a billion dollars out of the Bangladesh Bank’s computer systems. Even at that, they did get away with more than $80 million, making this one of the largest bank robberies in history.

The crooks had first stolen the bank’s credentials for making payment transfers, then began sending requests to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to send money to a variety of destinations in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, including an apparently fictional NGO called the Shalika Foundation. The red flag went up when one of those requests directed money to the Shalika “Fandation,” and Deutsche Bank (through which the request was routed) checked in with the Bangladesh Bank for clarification. At the same time, the Fed had been getting suspicious over the number of transfers to private entities, as opposed to other banks, and stopped the rest of the transactions. One official said that, had the scheme not been caught, the loss could have reached $870 million.

Vice News is further reporting that the Fed and the Bangladesh Bank are now arguing over who’s responsible. “The Fed had the responsibility to keep the money safe,” Shamim Ahamad, press minister for the Bangladeshi embassy in Washington, told the site. “We are suspecting that Chinese hackers have done it.” According to the Dhaka Tribune, the country’s finance minister is planning to sue the U.S. Federal Reserve in international court. The Fed, for its part, acknowledged that money had been moved but claims no responsibility. “There is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question,” said a Fed spokesperson in a statement. “There is no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised.”

Misspelling Stops $800 Million Cybertheft