A secretive millionaire, who uses the Twitter name @HiddenCash, has been leaving packets of cash around California, posting clues to the location of envelopes to his more than 450,000 followers on the social network.
The $100 bills or envelopes containing several $20 bills are amounting to $1,000-a-day philanthropy in what he terms on his Twitter account “an anonymous social experiment for good”.
The game started in San Francisco towards the end of May – with tweeted clues such as “A couple new drops in SF today. Hint: Hope the sea lions don’t get it” – before expanding to Los Angeles.
Last week, the generous benefactor tweeted he had plumped 36 ‘Angry Bird’ toys full of money –some with up to $180 – and stashed them around Hermosa Beach, an oceanfront city just south of Los Angeles.
The resulting scenes were described as “pandemonium” by one Twitter user as scores of locals descended on the beach.
However, some have been sceptical about the man’s motives, questioning whether the whole phenomenon may be a clever marketing ploy by a yet to be revealed company or advertising agency.
But “Mr HiddenCash” refuted that, and said he is just getting enjoyment out of creating the scavenger hunts and sharing his wealth around with people.
"Why is it so hard for some to believe that genuine acts of generosity are possible with no ulterior motive? Are we so jaded? Love," he tweeted.
A self-described member of the "one per cent" of wealthiest Americans, the man encourages finders to share the money with those around them who need it.
The real-estate investor recently closed a deal with a six-figure profit, so decided to “give some of it back” through random acts of kindness, he told CNN in a telephone interview.
“This is not a set-up charity, but I wanted to do something fun and creative,” he said. “We were thinking of something like the ‘Survivor’ TV show or something of that nature that was a scavenger hunt. They were basically too involved. So what we did was hide cash in different places. I thought it would be fun but it’s also something simple to execute. All you’re doing is leaving money and putting clues on Twitter.”
The man said he’s between ages 35 and 45, but maintains anonymity because he wants the attention on his pay-it-forward activities, not himself.
Meanwhile, the phenomenon has gone viral, with worldwide followers joining his Twitter feed not only for the promise of finding hidden cash, but for uplifting quotes and seeing people commit random acts of kindness after being spurred on to ‘pay it forward’.
On Monday the anonymous millionaire tweeted: “Why do you think we have gone viral? The prospect of free cash or the mass scavenger hunt or something else?”
The question remains whether Mr HiddenCash will carry on once he is outed, as the world is not only curious for his cash but someone to pin the good deeds on.
Yesterday he tweeted: “There are some false rumors about who Mr HiddenCash is, some naming our friends and others people we never heard of. Don't believe it!”
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