10/26/2016 13:59 EDT | Updated 10/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Four Quebec men charged in alleged Vermont ATM fraud scheme

MONTREAL — Four Quebec men have been arrested and charged in an alleged fraud scheme involving ATMs in Vermont, authorities announced Wednesday.

The residents of Montreal and Laval were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to use access devices fraudulently resulting in the receipt of more than US$1,000 in cash.

Brandon Lo, 24, and 21-year-olds Mathieu Baaklini, Safwan Bensalma, and Nicolau Manfredi were arrested by U.S. homeland security agents at the Canada-U.S. border on Monday as they attempted to cross into Vermont, the U.S. attorney's office said in a statement.

Authorities say the men travelled to Burlington between March and October this year to allegedly use ATM machines to obtain cash advances using information stolen from Canadian accounts.

The list of alleged incidents includes US$54,000 in suspected fraudulent cash advances on Canadian and European credit and debit cards in August. Approximately US$8,800 in cash advances was also reportedly withdrawn May 24.

The lead prosecutor said investigators are still working to reach a final tally of how much money the men are alleged to have obtained fraudulently.

"We're still working through potential loss amounts in the case," assistant U.S. attorney Kevin Doyle told The Canadian Press.  

The attorney's office said federal agents also found US$33,000 in cash, a computer and approximately 378 gift cards containing banking information during a search of a storage unit in Williston, Vt. 

Doyle said it is unclear whether this cash is linked to the amounts reported missing in the other alleged incidents.

A detention hearing for the four men is scheduled for Thursday morning in Burlington.

Doyle said he will recommend they remain in custody pending the resolution of the case.

"It might be obvious but they're Canadian, and when someone is charged with a federal crime in the United States and is released and allowed to go to Canada it's a lot harder to get someone to come back when they don't want to," he said.

The suspects face a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison and fines of up to US$250,000 if convicted.