Commuters pass by the front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ashikur Rahman
Commuters pass by the front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ashikur Rahman

DHAKA, (Diya TV) —A spelling mistake during an online bank transfer helped prevent a nearly $1 billion digital heist against Bangladesh’s central bank and the New York Federal Reserve last month, according to a recent report from Reuters.

An unknown group of hackers penetrated the security system’s of the institutions, and still managed to get away with about $80 million, one of the largest known bank thefts in history.

After breaching Bangladesh Bank’s security system, the group stole its credentials for payment systems, two senior officials at the bank said. Immediately after, they targeted the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with nearly three dozen transfer requests to move money from the Bangladesh Bank’s account there to the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Of the transfers, four were cleared, moving roughly $81 million to the Philippines. A fifth for $20 million, en route to a Sri Lanka non-profit was delayed because the hackers misspelled the name of the NGO, Shalika Foundation.

The hackers botched the spelling of the word foundation, instead writing “fandation.” The routing bank, Deutsche Bank, sought clarification of the transfer from Bangladesh Bank, and the transaction was immediately brought to a screeching halt.

Bangladesh Bank has billions of dollars in a current account with the Fed, which it uses for international settlements. According to one senior official of the Federal Reserve, the transactions which were stopped totaled between $850-$870 million. Bangladesh Bank has since said the stopped funds en route to Sri Lanka have been recovered, and is working with anti-money laundering authorities in the Philippines to try to recover the rest.

At first glance, the money on its way to Sri Lanka reached Pan Asia Banking Corp. That institution went back to Deutsche Bank for verification due to the unusually large size of the transfer — “The transaction was too large for a country like us,” a Pan Asia Banking Corp official told Reuters. “Then (Deutsche) came back and said it was a suspect transaction.”

Bangladesh officials are now rushing to patch up any gaping holes in its security systems, and says the probabilities of apprehending the hackers is slim to none. Additionally, it could take months to recover the stolen money, if its ever found at all. In the meantime, the Bangladesh government blames the Fed for not stopping the transactions sooner. Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told reporters on Tuesday that the country may resort to suing the Fed to recover the money.

“The Fed must take responsibility,” he said.

 The New York Fed has said its security systems were not breached, and that it has been providing as much support as possible to the Bangladesh Bank since the incident occurred.