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Anonymous Man Starts Internet Frenzy By Giving Away Cash

Sergio Loza found an envelope containing $50 taped to a parking meter in San Francisco's Mission District.
Sergio Loza
Sergio Loza found an envelope containing $50 taped to a parking meter in San Francisco's Mission District.

They're giving away money in California. Well, one man is.

An anonymous man has been leaving envelopes filled with cash — sometimes $50 or $100, sometimes more — and then tweeting out clues about their location.

What started as a local treasure hunt has blossomed into an Internet sensation. The man, whose Twitter handle is @HiddenCash, began sprinkling money around San Francisco a few days ago but has since spread the wealth to San Jose and Los Angeles.

"I just closed a real estate deal where my profit was about half-a-million dollars, and I decided even before it closed that one of the things I wanted to do with the money was something fun in SF," the man said in an email interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Those who find the money have been excitedly tweeting out pictures and talking to media outlets about their newfound bucks, if not wealth.

The Hidden Cash Twitter feed, which started last Friday, had 268,000 followers as of Thursday afternoon.

"It's a big deal," says Sheila Sullivan Tenney, a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco. "I haven't paid too much attention since I think others need it more than me."

But plenty of people from other cities and countries have expressed hope the treasure hunt will come their way.

A group of women behind what appears to be a copycat account has started hiding money around Colorado.

The mysterious San Francisco donor insists he's doing this purely for fun. His Twitter bio calls it "an anonymous social experiment for good."

"I want to get this city excited about finding money and just the idea of giving back," he said in an interview with KCAL, the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, which protected his identity by only showing his shoes.

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Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.
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