Hacker's typo foiled a billion dollar bank heist involving the Bangladesh central bank and the New York Fed

Jessica Morris
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Cyber crime is a growing problem (Source: Getty)

A spelling mistake in an online bank transfer helped halt a nearly $1bn heist last month, sparing the Bangladesh central bank and the New York Fed from an embarrassing episode.

But the unknown cyber criminals still managed to get away with a hefty $80m, meaning it was still one of the largest bank thefts in history.

Cyber attacks and the threat of high-profile data breaches are increasingly keeping business execs awake at night. It's a growing problem, with targeted cyber attacks doubled in the year to October 2015.

The hackers breached Bangladesh Bank's systems and stole its credentials for payment transfers, two senior officials told Reuters.

They then bombarded the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with nearly three dozen requests to move money from the Bangladesh Bank's account there to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

While four transfers of $81m went through, a fifth for $20m was held up because hackers misspelled the name of the non-profit organisation, Shalika Foundation. And the transactions which were stopped after this totaled between $850-$870m.

They spelled "foundation" as "fandation" prompting Deutsche Bank, to seek clarification from the Bangladesh central bank, which stopped the transaction.

Bangladesh Bank has said it has recovered some of the money that was stolen, and it is working with anti-money laundering authorities in the Philippines to try to get back the rest.

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