SANTA ANA, Calif. (KTLA) -- Twin brothers with a popular YouTube channel are accused of staging fake bank robberies in Irvine, causing an innocent Uber driver to be held at gunpoint by police, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Irvine residents Alan and Alex Stokes, both 23, face one felony count each of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, also known as "Swatting," the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
DA Todd Spitzer accused the pair of putting the public and police officers in danger in a “twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet.”
The brothers allegedly made two attempts to film a bogus bank robbery on Oct. 15, 2019. The pair was walking around dressed in all black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffel bags stuffed with cash, pretending they’d robbed a bank, as their videographer filmed, investigators said.
When they called an Uber around 2:30 p.m., the driver refused to pick them up because he was unaware of the ruse. A bystander who saw the events unfolding thought the Stokes brothers were trying to carjack the driver, authorities said. Irvine police responded and ordered the driver out of his car at gunpoint, but he was released after the officers determined he wasn’t involved. Police did issue a warning to the Stokes brothers about their conduct, but they were also let go, according to the DA’s office.
Four hours later, the brothers executed the same hoax on the campus of UC Irvine, and police fielded emergency calls regarding a bank robbery, prosecutors said.