YouTubers plead guilty over fake bank robbery
A pair of YouTubers have pleaded guilty to faking a bank robbery that led to an unsuspecting Uber driver being held at gunpoint by police.
Alan and Alex Stokes, 24, who have six million followers on their YouTube channel, filmed themselves staging a series of bank heists in 2019.
Wearing balaclavas, the twins pretended to use an Uber as a getaway vehicle.
A judge in California sentenced the twins to community service and a year’s probation for misdemeanour.
They could each have faced up to five years in prison for the pranks.
In one video, the brothers called for an Uber while wearing black and carrying bags apparently stuffed with banknotes.
When they got into the vehicle the Uber driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive them.
A witness believed the two men had just robbed a bank and were attempting to carjack the Uber driver.
Police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out at gunpoint.
“These crimes could have easily resulted in someone being seriously hurt or killed,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
“An active bank robbery is not a casual police response and these police officers were literally risking their lives to help people they believed were in danger.
“It is irresponsible and reckless that these two individuals cared more about increasing their number of followers on the internet than the safety of those police officers or the safety of the innocent Uber driver who was ordered out of his car at gunpoint.”
Robbery “prank videos” are relatively common on YouTube, sometimes involving fake firearms, balaclavas or getaway vehicles.
Known as “swatting”, videos that involve calling the police to falsely report a crime and lure them to a location have had fatal consequences in the past.
In February, 20-year-old Timothy Wilks was shot dead in Nashville while allegedly taking part in a “prank” robbery being filmed for YouTube.