CHICAGO (STMW) — They were paid to maintain hundreds of automated teller machines, but the feds say three South Side men instead used them as their personal piggy banks.

Joseph Cabello, 41, of the Canaryville neighorhood, Thomas O’Malley, 42, of McKinley Park and James Carlson, 45, of Beverly were each accused in the scheme and charged with wire fraud.

The men ran ATS Uptime, Inc., which was hired by 13 companies to maintain and stock about 800 ATMs in the city and suburbs, according a federal complaint filed Tuesday.

Between 2005 and 2012 the men stole about $1.3 million and shuffled funds from client to client and ATM to ATM to cover their steps, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“Sort of like a Ponzi scheme,” said Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The trio doctored balance sheets to evade detection, according to the complaint.

The men, who were not arrested, were scheduled to be in court Oct. 2 before federal Judge Ronald A. Guzman.

Samborn would not say what sparked the investigation, but noted the FBI handled the case.

All three could face 20 years in prison or fines up to $2.6 million if convicted, Samborn said.

Attorneys for the men could not be reached and a phone number for their business, located at 412 N. Oakley, was not working Wednesday evening.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Watch & Listen LIVE