Hidden Cash Hunt: The day money did grow on trees

The Hidden Cash Hunt launched by a Californian millionaire had Londoners scrambling for free dosh

The park is a hive of activity as groups of people flit frantically from one patch of undergrowth to another, peering round trees and under benches. But this is not a mass game of hide-and-seek: it is a search for cold, hard cash.

This treasure hunt is the first example in Britain of the phenomenon that has swept through several North American cities in the past few weeks and given away thousands of dollars.

The premise is simple: clues to the whereabouts of each “drop” of 20 white envelopes, every one containing a sum of money, are posted via the Hidden Cash Twitter account. Clues for yesterday’s hunt in central London included a “large space where green meets blue”, a veiled reference to crossing underground lines, eventually leading treasure hunters to a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Many dived straight into the vegetation behind the statue in a desperate attempt to be the first to the cash, said to total £1,500.

The first envelope was claimed by Sam Wilson, 30, from east London, who found £50 in a tree stump. “The whole point of this is a game for everyone to get involved. The atmosphere in the park was great,” she said, adding that she would give the £50 to her mother.

It is the idea of “paying it forward” that founder of Hidden Cash, Jason Buzi, 43, a property investor from California, had in mind when he started the treasure hunt around the streets of San Francisco last month.

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, the millionaire, who banded together with other wealthy individuals to hand out the cash, said he enjoyed the idea of bringing people outside using social media.

“When social media brings people together in a real-life way, it is very powerful and I think that’s the key thing here – that and brightening up people’s day,” he said. He hopes that people pass on their good fortune with other acts of kindness.

The big winners of the day were Adam Mills and Jane Fletcher from north London. Having found an envelope each on individual hunts, both containing £50, Mr Mills found another, and posted on Twitter the picture that is asked of those who find an envelope. He added that one find would be going to charity.

Mr Mills, 29, said he had no problem taking the money – despite some saying that Mr Buzi should give the cash straight to charity. But striking lucky a second time did give him pause for thought. “When you find the first one, it feels good, but the second one did make me think twice,” Mr Mills said.

Mr Buzi said that he plans future drops in London, as well as looking into possible hunts in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

The Hidden Cash Hunt is heading to Madrid next month and then on to Paris.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor