YouTube prank stars Stokes Twins have been handed a felony charge by the Orange County District Attorney in relation to a fake bank robbery prank video the pair recorded in October 2019. The twins, 23, face up to four years in state prison if convicted.
The YouTube duo were each charged on Wednesday with one felony count of false imprisonment affected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, according to authorities.
The pair — Alan and Alex Stokes — boast 4.8 million subscribers on their prank-dedicated channel. The upload in question, titled “BANK ROBBER PRANK! (gone wrong),” was watched nearly 1.5 million times since October 20, 2019.
In the video, the brothers pretend they are robbing a bank. The pair plead with unsuspecting strangers for clothes or getaway cars, all while pretending to carry a bloated duffel bag full of ‘stolen money’ from the nearby bank.
Some bystanders reported the incident to the police, which led to officers arriving and ending the prank video. The moment in question, when police officers respond to the call, is included in the Stokes Twins’ October 20 upload.
The brothers also called an Uber during the prank, but the requested driver “refused to drive them”. The Uber driver in question was reportedly held at gunpoint after Orange County officers arrived.
In a statement, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, “these were not pranks. These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or killed.”
“Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the public. 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. [They were] unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.”
The Stokes Twins were given a verbal warning by police at the time relating to their “dangerous conduct,” but were released. According to the DA’s office, the Stokes brothers will be sentenced to up to four years in prison “if convicted on all counts.”
The Orange County police officers who arrived on the scene at the end of the video also said the Stokes Twins were “lucky [they] didn’t get guns drawn” on them.
“That is what is going to get… someone potentially hurt,” the responding officers said. “Think about what’s going on nowadays. Think about it… you’ve got to be smarter than that. You know better.”