A near-riot broke out as people frantically searched for wads of cash hidden by an anonymous billionaire. The mystery man hides envelopes stuffed with cash, then leaves clues about where to look for them using the handel @Hiddencash on Twitter.
The scavenger hunt caused a frenzy at a shopping mall in Burbank, California where cops feared a riot.
"The person that is behind this does not want anyone to get hurt," said Burbank Police Lt. John Dilibet. "And that is what we are all trying to avoid. But will peace always come into play when it comes to money? Well, usually not."
Just hours after money was found hidden in Burbank came the next clue, directing scavenger hunters to old town Pasadena in search of fast cash. TV stations KCAL and KCBS actually caught up with the mystery man as he was hiding the envelopes.
He agreed to speak, but only on the condition that his face not be shown. So we are left with this clue as to his identity: his blue and grey sneakers. The sneakers of a billionare? Not really. They're Rawlings running shoes, priced at $50.
The mystery billionare said, "I want to do some drops here, and get the city excited about finding money and just the idea of giving back."
Another clue to his identity: envelopes with samples of his handwriting.
One man found $250, and discovered giving away cash is infectious. "I gave the $50 away and so I kept the $200. And I'll probably give some more away too," he said.
After the frenzied hunt threatened to get out of hand, the mystery millionaire appealed for calm, tweeting, "please walk and drive safely. A young woman ran right in front of my car. I will do my best to pick locations that are safe, but please use common sense and caution."
The hidden cash phenomenon is spreading. It started in San Francisco, came south to L.A. and is now going global. Copycat giveaways are being reported in Chicago, Kansas, Colorado, Florida, London, Amsterdam, South Africa, and Hong Kong. But back in Burbank, a teen found $250, and says she's going to pay it forward and send it to her sick grandmother in Mexico.
"I have no words," she said. "I just really want to say God bless you to him. This is really helping my family."