SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Twin brothers who star in a series of YouTube videos that feature pranks on unsuspecting people have been charged with false imprisonment and swatting, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Alan and Alex Stokes, 23 of Irvine, have been each charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency in connection with a pair of fake bank robberies in Irvine on Oct. 15, 2019.
According to the D.A.’s office, the pair allegedly dressed in all black, wore ski masks and carried duffle bags full of cash pretending that they had robbed a bank while their videographer filmed it. The pair then allegedly ordered an Uber.
The Uber driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive the brothers. A bystander, who witnessed the incident, believed the two men were attempting to carjack the Uber driver after robbing a bank and called police.
When Irvine police arrived, they ordered the Uber driver out of his vehicle at gunpoint. He was later released after police determined he was not involved. Police also issued a warning to the brothers about their behavior and allowed them to leave.
“Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the public, and when someone calls 911 to report an active bank robbery they are going to respond to protect lives,” D.A. Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Instead, what they found was some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.”
According to the D.A.’s office, the Stokes brothers performed the same kind of prank four hours later at the University of California, Irvine campus that again prompted a police response.
“These were not pranks,” Spitzer said. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”
The Stokes brothers each face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the district attorney’s office.