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Twin YouTube Stars Charged With Felonies After Fake Bank Robbery Video

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  • The Stokes Twins, who have 25 million TikTok followers and 4.8 million YouTuber subscribers, were charged with false imprisonment and swatting on Wednesday in connection to a fake bank robbery prank video they filmed in October 2019. 
  • In the video, they run around the Irvine, California area dressed in all black, with ski masks and duffle bags full of cash to make it seem like they had just committed a crime.
  • The prank resulted in their Uber driver being held at gunpoint by police, who authorities later learned was not involved. Even after police issued the duo a warning, they continued to carry out their prank on the UC Irvine campus. 
  • Each face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted on all counts. 

Stoke Twins in Trouble 

A pair of brothers known online as the Stokes Twins are in serious legal trouble over a fake bank robbery prank video they uploaded to their YouTube channel last year. 

The brothers are 23-year-old Alan and Alex Stokes, and they have 4.8 million followers on YouTube, where they post challenge videos, pranks, and other content. They also have over 25 million followers on their joint TikTok account. 

On Wednesday the Orange County District Attorney’s office in California announced that they had each been charged in connection with their robbery prank. 

The DA’s office said the video at the center of this case was filmed on October 15, 2019. However, in the video, the twins say it was filmed over the course of three days. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it had more than 1.4 million views before it was set to private sometime yesterday. Still, reuploads of the prank have already been posted and shared, along with more details about what happened when it was filmed thanks to a press release from the DA’s office. 

What Happens in the Prank Video?

In the video, the pair dresses up in all black with ski masks and duffle bags full of cash to make those around them believe they have just committed a crime. Much of the video is filmed in the Irvine area and UC Irvine campus, where the two run around to catch people’s attention, sometimes tripping and spilling cash onto the ground.

In some parts of the video, they approach strangers and ask for directions to the nearest bank. “Do you know how tight their security is?” one brother says after getting directions from a group of students. “I’m just going to make a large withdrawal if you know what I mean.”

A short time later, they return to anyone they previously approached and offer them money for their help. “Hey man, I just wanted to give you this cause I would have never gotten this without your help,” one brother says. 

At other points, they ask people if they can buy their clothes off of them and approach women to ask them out on dates, showing off their bags of cash. They even ask some women to help them commit their fake crimes.

“So I’m actually trying to rob a bank and I’m looking for an attractive female to distract the security guards. Would you be down to do that?” they ask.

The video ends with extra footage from these encounters, where the two explain that it was all a prank and people admit that they saw the cameraman or suspected it was a joke. 

Stunt With Uber Driver Goes Wrong 

Still, there were some people who didn’t think it was a joke at all. At one point in the video, the twins get into an Uber and the driver quickly becomes uncomfortable by the situation they’ve put him in.

“What is this?” the driver asks. “Uh, our getaway driver just bailed on us so uh,” one twin says.

“We’re going to like a costume party…Could you step on it? Like step on the gas,” they add.

“This is weird. It’s not funny. Okay, I can’t just take this ride. Just get out of my car please.” the driver tells the twins.

According to the DA’s office, a bystander saw this exchange and believed they were attempting to carjack the driver, so they called the police. When authorities responded, they ordered the driver out of the car at gunpoint. He was ultimately released after they determined that he was not involved.

Police also issued a warning to the brothers at that time about how dangerous their conduct was and let them go, which the twins actually include in the video. 

When the brothers explain that its a prank, one officer says, “A public prank that gets about 15 police officers in the area hauling butt over here cause you guys are pulling off masks.

One of the twins explains that he called the non-emergency police number and notified them of the days they would be filming their video. The officer responds with, “This is what’s going to get someone potentially gunstuck or someone hurt. We have people stopping the middle of the street because they’re watching this, guys pulling up ski masks, throwing stuff of the ground, changing clothes.”

One of the brothers explains that most people were laughing and he didn’t expect this to happen, seeming to admit that they took it too far. The officers continue to try to explain the seriousness of the situation to them, with one saying, “Dude, this about what’s going on nowadays. Think about it man you’ve got to be smarter than that.” 

“You know better…I want you guys to be creative and do what you want to do, but you’ve got to be smarter than this. What do you think people are going to do? Right, and you’ve lucky you didn’t get any guns drawn at you. You’re absolutely lucky you didn’t get any guns drawn at you.”

The officers remain calm, warning them to be careful and advising them to maybe rent a space or a controlled area for future videos instead. Because the brothers placed this at the end of the video, you might believe that maybe the twins realized what they did wrong and were learning from their mistake.

However, according to the press release, the brothers performed the prank on the University campus four hours after police initially spoke to them. 

In fact, they even laugh about how they’ve had the police call on them throughout the day when talking to others that they pranked on campus. 

They tell one group of students about the incident with the Uber driver adding, “The Uber driver kicked us out of the car. One minute later, there were like 10 cop cars that pulled out guns on him. They were like rifles. They thought he was the getaway driver guns so they had like 15 guns put up. He’s like ‘I’m not even a part of this.’ So yeah, poor guy.”

What Were They Charged With? 

The brothers have each been charged with one felony count of false imprisonment affected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit, and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, which is often referred to as swatting. They both face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted on all counts.

When announcing the charges, D.A. Todd Spitzer condemned their actions, saying in a statement, “These were not pranks.”

“These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed. 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.”

The brothers have no made any public comments about the charges as of now. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN

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Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her

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Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears


Fans Call 911

Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her. 

The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.

Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears. 

“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.

According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”

“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”

That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.

The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies 

Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021. 

Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety. 

In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be. 

Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.

See what others are saying: (Page Six) (Jezebel) (TMZ)

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Razzies Apologize For Nominating 12-Year-Old, Adopt Age Rules For Future Nominations

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The group’s founder said the Razzies regret “any hurt” the young actress may have “experienced as a result of our choices.”


Razzies Face Backlash

The Razzie Awards revoked its “insensitive” nomination of 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong and added new guidelines banning child performers from being nominated in the future. 

The Razzies, which award the year’s worst movies, included Armstrong in its “Worst Actress” lineup for her role in “Firestarter.” Bryce Dallas Howard, Diane Keaton, Kaya Scodelario, and Alicia Silverstone were also nominated in the category.

Armstrong starred alongside Zac Efron in “Firestarter,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The picture received a 10% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. 

While the film was broadly panned, many thought it was a bridge too far to nominate a child for a bad acting award.

“The Razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong,” child star Julian Hilliard, best known for his work in “WandaVision,” tweeted. “Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.”

Actor and podcast host Brandon Hardesty said the nomination was “completely ignorant and cynical.”

“They have no clue what this can do to a child actress who probably considered her starring role in FIRESTARTER as a high point in her life,” he wrote. 

“That girl was the best part of that mess of a movie,” film critic Shannon McGrew tweeted. “And on top of that, no kid should ever be nominated for an award that punches down on them.”

Nomination Revoked

Razzies founder John Wilson addressed the backlash in a statement to the press on Wednesday, calling the criticism “valid.”

“Sometimes, you do things without thinking, Then you are called out for it. Then you get it,” Wilson said. “It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”

“We have removed Armstrong’s name from the Final Ballot that our members will cast next month,” he continued. “We also believe a public apology is owed Ms. Armstrong, and wish to say we regret any hurt she experienced as a result of our choices.”

In addition to removing Armstrong’s nomination, The Razzies is now adopting “a Voting Guideline precluding any performer or film-maker under 18 years of age from being considered” for awards. 

“Since our motto is ‘Own Your Bad,’ we realize that we ourselves must also live up to it,” the statement closed.

While Armstrong will be the last child to nab a Razzie nomination, she was far from the first. Jake Lloyd made the list for his turn as young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Gary Coleman and Macaulay Culkin also got nominations as teenagers.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Hollywood Reporter) (People)

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SeatGeek CEO Calls to Break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Senate Hearing Following Taylor Swift Debacle

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“A lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” Jack Groetzinger said.


Monopoly Concerns

Two months after technical difficulties blocked countless Taylor Swift fans from snagging seats to her tour, a bipartisan group of Senators held a hearing to re-examine the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

The two entertainment giants merged in 2010. Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of the rival ticket-selling platform SeatGeek, said during Tuesday’s hearing that the two need to be broken up to benefit consumers. 

“One, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” he said. “Two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster, and three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.” 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed concerns about the lack of competition, arguing that Live Nation is the “definition of monopoly.”

“Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line,” she said. 

The Eras Tour Debacle

Ticketmaster has long been accused of price-gouging and complicating the ticket-buying process. Those issues made international headlines in November during the presale for Swift’s highly anticipated Era’s Tour. 

Millions of fans who attempted to enter Ticketmaster’s virtual queue walked away empty-handed after experiencing crashes, price inflation, and a myriad of other issues. 

According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. After the company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether, Swift called the ordeal “excruciating.”

“We asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” she wrote on Instagram in November. 

The controversy prompted many to accuse Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of holding a monopoly over the concert and live events industry. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the entertainment giant. 

Ticketmaster Takes Heat

Ticketmaster has repeatedly tried to blame a number of factors for the failed Swift presale, even at one point suggesting the sale was too popular because the “Anti-Hero” singer waited so long to tour. 

“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during the hearing. 

Still, the company continued to point the finger at record-breaking bot attacks. 

“We knew bots would attack at onsale and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic that we’d ever experienced,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold said on Capitol Hill. 

“The attack requires [us] to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience we deeply regret. We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” he continued. 

Others present at the hearing were not happy with Live Nation’s bot defense. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that she has worked with companies in a variety of industries that deal with bots without these issues. 

“You know what, they get bot attacks every single day by the thousands. By the thousands,” she said. “And they have figured it out, but you guys haven’t? This is unbelievable.” 

“You can’t blame bots for what happened to Taylor Swift,” JAM Productions CEO Jerry Mickelson added. “There’s more to that story that you’re not hearing.”

According to Mickelson, Ticketmaster can actually stand to benefit from glitchy sales on its platform. 

“The process, when it’s slowed down, increases the money that Ticketmaster makes because they make money on fees and as the ticket prices go up due to dynamically priced tickets, Ticketmaster makes more off that,” he claimed. “So it’s to their advantage to slow the process down.”

Outrage against Ticketmaster has become so widespread that Sen. Blumenthal said the company was responsible for “an absolutely stunning achievement.” 

“You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”

See what others are saying: (Axios) (USA Today) (New York Times)

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