It all started, as so many tech stories do, in San Francisco. A Twitter account promised free money to its followers, telling them that cash was hidden across the city, and all they needed to do was follow the clues to find it. Sounds too good to be true, right?
But, unbelievably, it’s not a joke, it’s not a set-up and it’s not a scam. Over the last week, @HiddenCash’s followers have eagerly awaited each next clue – delivered in the form of a photo that gives a hint of where the money is hidden – and many have successfully located envelopes stuffed with cash, sometimes as much as $200. All they are asked for in return is that they tweet a photo of themselves with their treasure trove, along with the account’s Twitter handle.
With over 350,000 followers, the account has grown quickly. It describes itself as “an anonymous social experiment for good”, and the man who runs it is, as BBC News reports, believed to be a wealthy individual who made considerable sums in the property market.
Speaking with People a few days ago, he said: “There is nothing wrong with donating money to a traditional charity, but I also wanted to donate in a more spontaneous way. I want this to expand to other cities. I want this to become a movement.”
He has already got his wish. USA Today reported that the ‘movement’ has now made its way to Washington DC, New Orleans and Dallas, with these offshoots confirming that they were inspired by the original account in San Francisco. But less than a week after it first began, it has already spread beyond the United States.
Similar accounts have popped up in other parts of the world too, with followers finding cash hidden across Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom. @HiddenCash_UK has already attracted a sizable following, after the first British envelope was found in Leeds, followed by more in Manchester and Sheffield. UK media are also getting in on the fun, with a clue for the location of one envelope in the south of England set to be revealed on BBC Radio 5 Live.
As with the person behind the San Francisco account, the man running the UK version also wants to remain anonymous. He explained the reason that he decided to do it: “It’s fun for me, and it helps people out – so it’s a win-win.”
For some, the money has been a welcome find to help pay their bills. Others who have found the cash have decided that it would be better in the hands of those who need it more, donating their findings to charity. But while most who take part do not win, all seem to be in agreement that it’s a wonderful idea that happens to be a lot of fun.
There’s just not enough of this kind of thing in the world these days. Here’s hoping this movement spreads far and wide.