Twin YouTube Stars Alan and Alex Stokes Charged with Felonies After Staging Bank Robbery Pranks
The prank is documented in a YouTube video titled "BANK ROBBER PRANK! (gone wrong)"
Twin YouTubers have been charged with felony counts after they pretended to be bank robbers for prank videos filmed in California last year.
Alan and Alex Stokes, 23, are each facing a felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced in a press release Wednesday.
The twins are accused of dressing in all black and wearing ski masks while carrying around duffel bags of cash last October.
According to the DA's office, Alan and Alex ordered an Uber driver while posing as bank robbers on October 15, beginning the caper around 2:30 p.m. The driver refused to drive them, and a bystander believed they were trying to carjack the Uber driver.
When police arrived, they ordered the Uber driver out of the car at gunpoint, releasing him when they realized he was not involved.
"Police issued a warning to the Stokes brothers about the dangerous of their conduct and let them go," the DA's press release said.
But the brothers pulled the same kind of prank just hours later at the University of California, Irvine, the DA's office said, prompting more emergency calls to police.
The so-called pranks were filmed — and made into a YouTube video that the twins shared on their channel on October 20 of last year titled "BANK ROBBER PRANK! (gone wrong)." The video has more than one million views.
The interaction with the Uber driver is shown in the video.
In the footage, the pair ran into the car, telling the driver, "Our getaway driver just bailed on us."
"This is weird. It's not funny," the Uber driver said. "You can't take this ride ... get out of my car please."
Later in the video, the twins recounted the Uber driver mishap to a group of UC Irvine students.
"We've had the police called on us like all day," one of the brothers said. "I called an Uber driver, right, and we both got in the car, and then the people saw us get into the car with like the ski mask and everything on, and then the Uber driver kicked us out of the car."
"One minute later, there were like 10 cop cars that pulled out like guns on him," he continued. "They were like rifles. They thought he was the getaway driver, so they had like 15 guns — he's like, 'I'm not even a part of this.' ... Yeah, poor guy."
Elsewhere in the video, one of the brothers is shown speaking with a police officer, telling the officer that he had called the non-emergency phone number to alert the police of their planned prank ahead of time.
"This is what's going to get someone potentially gun-stuck or someone hurt," the officer said in the video. "We have people stopping in the middle of the street because they're watching this, guys pulling off ski masks, throwing stuff on the ground changing clothes."
Another officer told him, "you've gotta be smarter than that, man."
"I want you to be creative and do what you want to do, but you've got to be smarter than this," the officer said. "What do you think people are gonna do?"
Alex and Alan did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
"These were not pranks," Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said in a statement Wednesday.
"These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed," Spitzer said. "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. 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."
If convicted, the Stokes twins could face up to four years in state prison, the DA's office said.