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How a $1 billion bank heist was thwarted by a typo

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Hackers helped themselves to $81 million after breaching Bangladesh Bank’s systems between Feb. 4 and Feb. 5—but the massive theft could have been far worse if not for a typo.

After successfully transferring $81 million from the bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to entities in the Philippines, the hackers tried to transfer another $20 million to a Sri Lankan nonprofit, only they wrote “fandation” rather than “foundation” as part of its name, an official tells Reuters.

While the Fed grew suspicious, routing bank Deutsche Bank caught the typo and got in touch with 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. Officials suspect stolen funds were diverted to banks and casinos and say accounts that received the funds have been frozen.

An official tells the Wall Street Journal that “some” money was recovered but the hackers—who experts suspect are from outside Bangladesh and spied on bank workers to gain information on the bank’s systems—are unlikely to be found.

The Fed, however, may face consequences. Bangladesh’s finance minister says the country may sue the Fed 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 the New York Post.

A rep for the Fed says “the payment instructions in question were fully authenticated” by money-transfer system SWIFT.

This article originally appeared on Newser: $1B Bank Heist Thwarted by … a Typo

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