The twin brothers are known for their popular series of prank videos, and have more than 25 million TikTok followers (and 4 million on YouTube).
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday (5 August) that the pair have been charged with false imprisonment and “swatting”.
On 15 October 2019, the brothers allegedly staged a fake bank robbery by dressing in ski masks and all-black attire, carrying duffel bags full of cash. Their videographer filmed the twins as they then ordered an Uber.
With reasonable motive to suspect foul play, the Uber driver refused to drive the Stokes brothers, and a bystander called the police after mistaking the situation for a real post-robbery carjacking.
Each Stokes brother faces one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit, as well as one misdemeanour count of falsely reporting an emergency.
Irvine police arrived and held the Uber driver at gunpoint, before releasing him after being made aware of his non-involvement.
The Stokes brothers were issued a warning by the police and were allowed to leave, before performing a similar prank just four hours later at the university campus of UC Irvine, which again led to police being called.
District attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement: “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.”
“These were not pranks,” he added. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”