The man who used the Twitter account @HiddenCash to send people scurrying to find envelopes of money in cities across California, including a location in Burbank, revealed his identity to the world Monday night.
Bay Area real estate investor Jason Buzi gave his first television interview in which he showed his face, explaining his motive and future plans on CNN's "AC360." Buzi told host Anderson Cooper that he has given away between $10,000 and $15,000 since starting the scavenger hunts for cash in San Francisco.
"I've done well, and some of my friends that are involved with it have done very well as well," Buzi said. "Typically, when people give back, they do it through charity. And we do that, too ... I've said from the beginning, this is not instead of charity."
In late May, Buzi tweeted hints to the locations of cash drops at a fountain in Los Feliz, the Huntington Library in San Marino and spots in Echo Park, Hermosa Beach and Burbank. He's also hidden money away in Bakersfield, Sacramento and other locations across the state.
Buzi was outed several days ago by the TV program "Inside Edition," which hired a forensic voice analyst to compare various recordings of him with interviews he gave anonymously as @HiddenCash.
Being outed has made it more difficult to do the drops, Buzi told CNN.
"The downside of people knowing my name is I'm getting personal requests to me now as if I'm some kind of zillionaire, which I'm not," he said.
The scavenger hunts are less about the cash and more about the social experiment, he told Cooper.
"When social media, the Internet, brings together people in a real-life way -- where it gets them out of their living room, or away from their phone, out there doing things with their friends, with their kids, with their families -- I think there's something very powerful about that," Buzi said.
Despite his identity no longer being under wraps, Buzi said the experiment isn't over.
"We're planning to give away a lot more," he said.
Buzi announced plans to expand @HiddenCash hunts to at least eight more cities, including Las Vegas, Houston, Chicago, New York and Mexico City, this weekend. London, Paris and Madrid will also see their own cash drops by early July, he said.
-- Richie Duchon, Los Angeles Times