TV

Don't Pick Up the Phone: Who was the hoax caller behind horrific strip-search crimes?

Met Police officers use ‘sexist, derogatory’ language in strip-search on academic

True crime lovers will be gripped by a new Netflix documentary called Don't Pick Up the Phone which profiles the strip search phone scam calls that happened across the US in the early 2000s.

Multiple fast-food restaurants received a call from a person claiming to be a police officer or other authority figure claiming a manager needed to strip search an employee who was being accused of a crime.

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In each instance, the caller would demand the manager or supervisor take a female employee into a back room, strip them, and search them on behalf of the police.

The bizarre case has haunted and baffled people for years.

But who was the strip search caller and what happened that led to an arrest? Here's what we know.

What were the strip-search call scams?

Beginning in 1992, fast food restaurant managers or supervisors across the US received a call from an unknown person claiming to be a police officer or authority figure within the company demanding they strip search a female employee.

While often the caller only requested a humiliating strip search, sometimes they would also request the employee pose in different positions.

Over 70 cases of this were reported to the police with the most notable being the Mount Washington McDonalds Scam where a female employee was sexually abused at the hands of an assistant manager's fiancé via directions from the caller.

Who was the strip search caller?

After the Mount Washington incident, police arrested a 38-year-old married man named David Richard Stewart in Panama City, Florida.

Authorities said they had physical evidence that tied Stewart to the calls, including a phone card, found in his home, that was used to call nine different restaurants.

However, Stewart denied any involvement in the phone scams.

He was tried and faced up to 15 years in prison, Stewart was found not guilty by a jury and acquitted of all charges.

Don't Pick Up The Phonewill be available on Netflix on December 14th.

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