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Frank Gray

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Hey @HiddenCash, come visit FtWayne

A couple of months ago, someone in California wheedled his – or her – way into the news and generated more buzz around the country than a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign could have created.

The person, who started out anonymous, started hiding envelopes filled with money – 50 or so dollars here, a hundred there, a couple of hundred somewhere else – in public spots around San Francisco. The people who found the envelopes were asked to tweet a photo of themselves and the money they found to @HiddenCash.

Meanwhile, people who signed up to follow the Twitter account would get hints about when and where more cash would be hidden. The clues, by the way, are generally pretty obvious, such as “under the picnic tables in the park.”

The story is that the person doing this had made a bundle of money and decided to redistribute it, a little bit at a time, to the general population just for fun.

This moneyed stranger has been hiding the money mostly in cities in California, though three jars, each containing 1,000 pounds in cash, have been hidden somewhere in England.

In some places, the hidden cash, sometimes in the form of silver dollars, sometimes big bills stuffed into Pez dispensers, has worked the public into a frenzy.

The money has also made people in different parts of the country a little jealous. So the guy who is doing this – later revealed as Jason Buzi, a 43-year-old Bay Area real estate investor – announced that if people wanted him to hide money in their town, they should start a Twitter account under @HCcome(their city’s name). Once the account had 1,000 followers, the town would be placed on a list of possible places to scatter some cash.

It all sounds like good fun, though if you sense an ulterior motive, this is a good way to quickly generate millions of followers on a Twitter account, which would make it a good platform for advertising.

Meanwhile, back in Fort Wayne, one woman, Brenda Mossbarger, who has been following this story, decided Fort Wayne should get in on the act, so she’s started a Twitter account under @HCcomeFtWayne.

Mossbarger said she spent all of last weekend mulling over the notion of setting up the Twitter account and finally decided to do it.

There’s one problem, though. Mossbarger, who is active mainly on Facebook, doesn’t have a ton of friends, and so far she’s been able to get only 31 people in Fort Wayne to sign up to the @HCcomeFtWayne Twitter site. That leaves her 969 followers short. So she called the newspaper looking for a little bit of publicity.

All in all, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Anybody who wants to come to town a scatter a few hundred-dollar bills around is welcome in Fort Wayne, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, they can stay as long as they like.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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