San Francisco real estate mogul is paying it forward in the most fun way possible

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who’s launched a social media scavenger hunt sensation said he plans to continue his work on his “anonymous social experiment for good.”

The man behind the Twitter account HiddenCash leaves money for people who decipher clues online.

What would compel a 23-year-old man to climb up an abandoned bulldozer on a Sunday evening?

The thrill of discovery.

“People like to be right, to find clues and follow something to the end. Find something that nobody else has found yet,” said Matt Burkurt of San Francisco.

He found an envelope with $100 in it, left by the anonymous donor who operates under the Twitter handle HiddenCash.

Burkurt showed us the envelope that had been tucked into a bulldozer parked on Lincoln and Great Highway near Ocean Beach Sunday evening.

“On the front it says, ‘With love, from Hiddencash,’ ” said Burkurt.

The person who goes by the name HiddenCash on Twitter is a treasure hunt maestro, tweeting out clues about where to find envelopes of money that they leave behind.

Burkurt’s clue was, “Stand on top of the Caterpillar that’s close to the water.”

Burkurt did the search with two of his friends. He said he plans to use the money to treat his office to lunch this week.

“I didn’t budget for an extra hundred dollars, so might as well give it to somebody else, right?” he said.

An earlier clue Sunday led another treasure hunter to Amoeba Music on Haight Street, where another $100 was in the sleeve of a “We Are the World” record.

“I don’t think it’s going to change the world, but for someone who found the money, especially if they were someone in need. I think it’s a cool thing,” said Amoeba Music manager Tony Green.

The person behind Hidden Cash called KTVU back Monday afternoon. He wanted to maintain his anonymity, so he didn’t reveal his name. But he explained he’s made a lot of money in San Francisco real estate in the past few years and wanted to give some of his money away.

“The last real estate deal I did I made about half a million dollars. I can afford to give a lot,” he said.

Mike Sheffield says he could definitely use the money, but he doesn’t have a Twitter account or access to the Internet.

“It just seems that it could be money spent more directly to help somebody,” Sheffield said.

HiddenCash said he does give a lot of his money to charities, including the San Francisco Food Bank, and that his treasure hunts are for fun and are meant to “put a smile on someone’s face.” He said he would like people who can afford it to “pay it forward” and give or share the money they find with someone else.

“If people need the money for themselves, that’s fine. But if they can share it that with others, that would be great,” he said. “I’ve heard some heart-warming stories from people donating to charity and sharing it with other people who are less fortunate.”

“To me, it’s that person’s money. They can do whatever they want with it,” said Sergio Loza of San Francisco. Sunday morning he followed HiddenCash’s Twitter clues to find $50 on a Valencia Street parking meter. He used the money to buy his niece a birthday gift.

His message to HiddenCash: “Thanks, it’s a cool thing you’re doing. A lot of people can use it nowadays. It’s a good thing, keep it going.”

The man behind the HiddenCash phenomenon said he will be leaving envelopes of money in San Jose on Wednesday, Los Angeles next weekend and possibly New York City next month. He says he’d like his social experiment to go global eventually.


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