It’s official: “Hidden Cash” is now a cultural craze, and it’s spawned an anonymous copycat benefactor right here in San Diego.
Over the past week, the clues have led followers to other cities in California, including Los Angeles, San Jose and Pasadena in search of that little envelope stuffed with cash.
Though the official @HiddenCash creator hasn’t quite made it to San Diego yet, a copycat benefactor has taken the reins and is stashing hidden cash locally under the Twitter handle @SDCashStash.
So far, the drops have happened in Mission Valley, Escondido and Mission Bay East, where lucky winners have already found some cash.
On Friday afternoon, a local couple found $100 taped to a vending machine in Mission Bay East.
It happened to be on top of the vending machine, so this was a pretty nice day,” said Martin Vargas.
San Diegan Geoffrey Perkins found $55 taped to a sign.
The @SDCashStash Twitter account promises more drops are coming, too.
Earlier in the week, a few other copycats had surfaced on Twitter, including @HiddenCashSD. A clue-filled tweet from that account had people looking all around the parking lot of the DZ Akins restaurant in the East County Friday evening.
“Everywhere. Up, down, bottom and in the tree,” said Michael Mack, as he searched for the hidden cash.
Even the owner of a nearby consignment shop, Looks Better on Me, closed her business as she looked for the cash.
"Well, I saw the ad this morning telling all about it and I think it's such a great cause. I would definitely pay it forward so I'm looking," she said.
This gift of giving has spread across the world, with cash gives reported in Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, Holland, and Hong Kong. Viral kindness that is going a long way.
Perkins said he already had plans for his surprise money.
"[I’m going to] put some gas in my van and probably go feed some of the homeless in Ocean Beach because they need it,” he said.
"A little help for somebody makes a big difference like this is going to help me with rent and I'm definitely going to pay it forward,” said Audra Skalada, another lucky local winner.
The mastermind behind the original @HiddenCash money movement shows no signs of slowing down either.
The anonymous cash-giver released a statement Friday saying there’s no ulterior motive behind his mission to pay it forward and is glad to see others starting their own similar movements.
“There really is no agenda here - not political, not business, not religious - other than bringing people together in a positive way and bringing a smile to people's faces,” the statement read.
“There will always be cynics and skeptics, especially as a movement grows, but it is truly my intention to give back and make people happy. This is not a promotion for a business. We want to encourage people to be kind, to be generous, and to pay it forward. For those who started similar movements in other cities and countries around the world, we salute you,” the statement continued.
The benefactor also revealed how and why @HiddenCash started in the first place.
“One week ago tonight, on May 22, 2014, after a late dinner with a friend in San Francisco, I was telling him about my desire to give back to the community which I love and has given me so much, and to do it in a fun way,” the statement explained.
“What was originally meant to be a pay-it-forward scavenger hunt for San Francisco, has become much bigger than San Francisco and more than a scavenger hunt. The worldwide interest that has been spawned is tremendous, and though personally surprising, in some ways it is understandable,” the statement continued.
Due to the popularity of the cash craze, the @HiddenCash benefactor also reminded people to keep the game “safe and positive,” and walk and drive safely while hunting for the envelopes.