SANTA ANA, Calif. – Twin brothers who star in YouTube videos featuring pranks on unsuspecting people have been charged with false imprisonment and swatting in connection with a pair of fake bank robberies in Irvine that resulted in their Uber driver being held at gunpoint by police. The Uber driver was not involved in the prank.
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 the October 15, 2019 pranks.
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They each face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted on all counts.
On October 15, 2019, at about 2:30 p.m., the Stokes brothers are accused of being dressed all in black, wearing ski masks, and carrying duffle bags full of cash as they pretended they had just robbed a bank while their videographer filmed this.
They ordered an Uber and when they got in the vehicle the Uber driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive them. A bystander witnessed this, believing the two men had just robbed a bank and were attempting to carjack the Uber driver.
Irvine police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out at gunpoint. He was released after police determined he was not involved.
Police issued a warning to the Stokes brothers about the dangerous of their conduct and let them go.
Four hours later the Stokes brothers performed the same kind of prank on the campus of the University of California, Irvine. Police again received emergency calls regarding a bank being robbed.
“These were not pranks,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed. 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.”
Deputy District Attorney Laila Nikaien of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting this case.