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YouTube pranksters charged with false imprisonment after fake bank robbery

Irvine police held an unsuspecting Uber driver at gunpoint while Alex and Alan Stokes carried out the prank on video.
/ Source: NBC News

YouTube stars Alex and Alan Stokes were charged Wednesday with false imprisonment and other crimes after a bank robbery prank last year that included an unsuspecting Uber driver being held at gunpoint, authorities said.

The 23-year-old twin brothers, who have nearly 5 million subscribers on a YouTube page where they post goofy videos and pranks, carried out the fake robbery in October in the Southern California city of Irvine, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

In an Oct. 20 video posted on the twins’ YouTube page, the pair can be seen wearing black ski masks and clothing while approaching random people and asking where the nearest bank is for a "large withdrawal."

At one point, the brothers get into an Uber with a duffel bag. One of the twins says their getaway driver bailed and asks the driver to “step on the gas.”

The driver asks them to get out, but a bystander who wasn’t aware of the prank dialed 911 and reported that the brothers were trying to carjack the driver after robbing a bank, the district attorney’s office said.

“Irvine police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out at gunpoint,” the statement said, adding that he was later released after authorities determined he wasn’t involved in the incident.

Later in the video, after the brothers removed their masks and recounted the prank to one of the groups they’d approached earlier, one declares that “10 cop cars pulled guns” on the driver.

“He was like, ‘I’m not even a part of this,’ so like, yeah, poor guy,” he says.

At another point in the video, responding officers can be seen lecturing the brothers about how they were lucky they didn’t have guns drawn on them.

"I want you guys to be creative and do what you want to do, but you've got to be smarter than this," one of the officers says. "What do you think people are going to do?"

A representative for the Stokes did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night. YouTube also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Each of the brothers was charged with false imprisonment, a felony, and reporting a false emergency, a misdemeanor. They face a maximum of four years in prison.