Making a typo in a tweet that then gets retweeted is bad enough, but imagine how dumb these hackers feel. Reuters reports that hackers broke into Bangladesh’s central bank in February and started transferring large sums to accounts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka from an account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Unfortunately for the hackers, only four of these transfers, for a total value of about $81 million, went through successfully. Not because the break-in was detected by the Bangladesh Bank or because heavily armed police kicked down the hackers’ doors and arrested them all at gunpoint… but because one of the transfers had a typo.
Attempting to transfer $20 million to a Sri Lankan non-governmental organization called the Shalika Foundation, the hackers instead attempted a transfer to the Shalika “Fandation.” Staff at Deutsche Bank spotted this error and got in contact with the Bangladeshis to ask for clarification.
The ruse was discovered and the remaining transfers were canceled.
Reuters writes that the NGO does not in fact appear to exist.
The NY Fed also queried the Bangladeshi bank after spotting the large number of transfer requests that had private entities rather than other banks as the recipients.
Bank officials stated that transactions totaling $850 million to $870 million were canceled.
The $81 million that was successfully transferred has not been recovered, and the perpetrators are currently unknown.
Bangladeshi officials say that it’s unlikely that the hackers will be caught and that if any money is even recovered, it will take months.
They believe that the money was subsequently directed to casinos once it reached the Philippines.
Robbing banks electronically is a big business. Last year, hackers were believed to have stolen as much as a billion dollars in attacks that impersonated bank officials and made large fraudulent transactions over the course of two years. Investigators of the Bangladeshi hack believe that the attackers had considerable knowledge of the central bank’s workings, perhaps gained by spying on its workers, but came from outside the country.