Hackers hit Bangladesh Bank for millions, until a typo saves the day

The Federal Bank of New York has just revealed one of the most audacious and seemingly profitable bank robberies of all time.

A hacker group managed to discover the Bangladesh Banks codes for facilitating foreign remittances and perpetrated one of the biggest bank robberies of all time. The group discovered the codes that enabled the foreign transfer of money from the Bangladesh banks reserves held in the US federal bank. With these codes, they were able to request and astonishingly transfer huge amounts of money to foreign private accounts.

Reuters, say that, armed with the legitimate transfer codes The criminals then bombarded the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with nearly three dozen requests to move money from the Bangladesh government account at the Federal Reserve to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Like many national banks, the Bangladesh Bank has billions of dollars held in a current account with the Federal Bank, which it uses for international settlements. However, it appears that many small ($20m-$30m) transfers happened over a very short time an destined to recipients in the Philippines and some NGO organisations that didn’t exist. The alarm was raised when one German clearing bank questioned the spelling of a transaction, which alerted the Bangladesh Bank to the attack.

Bangladesh Bank has billions of dollars in a current account with the Federal Bank, which it uses for international settlements. However, the abnormal number of payment instructions and transfer requests to private entities did not seem to have triggered an alert with the Federal Bank, as it kept paying out.

According to Reuters, at least four large money transfers went through around about $81m (£57m) to the Philippines but a fifth, for $20m (£14m), to a Sri Lankan non-profit organisation was delayed after the hackers misspelled the name of the Shalika Foundation and this payment was stopped by a clearing bank that questioned the misspelling.

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