It's all fun and games until you're facing criminal charges.
Brothers Alan Stokes and Alex Stokes, otherwise known as the Stokes Twins to their nearly five million YouTube subscribers, are facing false imprisonment and swatting charges in connection to two fake bank robberies. Their popular YouTube channel often features videos of the pair pranking their friends or other social media challenges.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office announced via a press release on Wednesday, Aug. 5 that the 23-year-olds were "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."
According to authorities, Alan and Alex, who were dressed in "all in black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffle bags full of cash," pretended "they had just robbed a bank" and called an Uber. The incident was allegedly being filmed by their videographer.
When Alan and Alex got into the vehicle, authorities claim the Uber driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive. "A bystander witnessed this, believing the two men had just robbed a bank and were attempting to carjack the Uber driver," the press release states.
"Irvine police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out at gunpoint. He was released after police determined he was not involved," authorities add. "Police issued a warning to the Stokes brothers about the dangerous of their conduct and let them go."
Only four hours later, Alan and Alex allegedly performed a similar prank on the campus of the University of California, Irvine.
"These were not pranks," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. "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."
Alan and Alex face up to four years in state prison if convicted on all charges.
They have yet to comment publicly.