The 23-year-old twins from Irvine, California, were charged with false imprisonment and falsely reporting an emergency for pulling the same robbery stunt twice on Oct. 15, 2019, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. They face up to four years’ imprisonment if convicted.
Police cautioned the pair after their first attempt at the prank for their “Stokes Twins” channel, which has 4.8 million subscribers, went awry. The siblings, whose videos have garnered more than 482 million views, repeated the stunt four hours later with similarly disastrous results.
“These were not pranks,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.” He added that officers responding to a bank robbery in progress instead found “some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.”
Dressed in black and wearing ski masks while carrying bags full of cash, the brothers pretended to run out of a bank and tried to get a ride from an unwitting Uber driver, claiming their getaway driver had gone missing.
The Uber driver, however, refused to serve the brothers. A bystander thought they were real bank robbers trying to carjack the vehicle and called police. Officers arrived and ordered the Uber driver out of the car at gunpoint. He was “released after police determined he was not involved,” the DA’s office said in the statement.
The brothers explained their video stunt to the officers, the DA said, and cops “issued a warning to the Stokes brothers about the dangerous ... conduct and let them go.”
Four hours later, they were caught trying to pull a similar prank on the campus of the University of California, also prompting emergency robbery calls from bystanders.
The Stokes’ resulting YouTube video — titled “BANK ROBBER PRANK! (gone wrong)” — has been seen more than 1 million times. It is now listed as “private” on the channel. Copies are still available on YouTube.
The twins, who combined have 10 million followers on Instagram, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. They have not yet been arraigned on the charges and are not in custody, according to the Los Angeles Times.