SANTA ANA, Calif. – Two twin brothers with millions of fans on YouTube face possible prison time after police responded to a pair of fake bank robberies and held an unsuspecting Uber driver at gunpoint in October, according to California prosecutors.
Alan and Alex Stokes, 23, of Irvine, each face a felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit, along with a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, according to a news release from the Office of the District Attorney of Orange County.
“These were not pranks,” said District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”
The first video, shot October 15, 2019, shows the pair dressed all in black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffle bags while pretending to have robbed a bank.
“They ordered an Uber and when they got in the vehicle the Uber driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive them,” the release stated. “A bystander witnessed this, believing the two men had just robbed a bank and were attempting to carjack the Uber driver.”
Irvine police responded and held the driver at gunpoint until they determined he wasn’t involved and let him go; officers warned the Stokes brothers but did not arrest them.
Four hours later, prosecutors say, police responded to reports of a bank being robbed and found the pair filming a similar prank at the University of California, Irvine.
“Think about what’s going on these days, think about it. You’ve got to be smarter than that, you know better,” A responding officer in one of the bank robbery pranks tells the YouTubers. “What do you think people are going to do? You’re lucky you didn’t get any guns drawn at you.”
D.A. Spitzer called the videos “some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.
The pair each face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted on all counts.