Twin brothers who have a wildly popular series of prank videos on TikTok and YouTube have been charged with false imprisonment and “swatting,” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Alan and Alex Stokes, both 23 of Irvine, CA, each has been charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit, and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency. The charges stem from a pair of fake bank robberies in Irvine on Oct. 15.
The brothers boast more than 25 million followers on TikTok under their @stokestwins handle and more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube.
According to the D.A.’s office, the pair dressed in all black, wore ski masks and carried duffel bags full of cash to pretend that they had robbed a bank. Their videographer filmed it while the pair then ordered an Uber.
The Uber driver refused to drive the brothers. A bystander witnessing the incident believed the men were attempting to carjack the Uber driver after robbing a bank and called police.
When Irvine police arrived, they held the Uber driver at gunpoint but later released him after determining that he was not involved. At the time, the police issued a warning to the brothers about their behavior and allowed them to leave.
According to the D.A.’s office, the Stokes brothers performed the same kind of prank four hours later at the UC Irvine campus, again prompting a police response.
The DA did not laugh at the attempted joke.
“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.
“These were not pranks,” Spitzer added. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”
If convicted on the charges, each Stokes brother faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison, the district attorney’s office said.
The accused have denied the charges of criminal activity.