@HiddenCash ends free-money campaign, saying it's too big to sustain

.@HiddenCash ends money-scavenger hunts, saying they're not sustainable

The man behind the Twitter phenomenon @HiddenCash called it quits Tuesday after months of giving away free money throughout the U.S. and abroad.

According to a statement issued on the widely followed Twitter account, the social media-driven scavenger hunt had become a full-time job for Jason Buzi and his partner, Yan Budman, as they spent more money, time and energy than they had expected.

"It is simply not sustainable for two regular guys to keep doing this forever," they said.

They said they had received sponsorship offers that would have allowed the campaign to continue. But turning the effort into an advertising business, they said, "was not in line with our goals and mission."

The Twitter account gained popularity after Buzi, who initially remained anonymous, began organizing numerous scavenger hunts by hiding bundles of cash and tweeting clues to their locations.

The hunts began May 22 in San Francisco and quickly spread to cities including Los Angeles and San Diego, where he set up elaborate scavenger hunts along the beach and at parks.

Soon after, copycats were reported in cities abroad and in the U.S., including San Diego, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

His mission, Buzi said, was to inspire others to pay it forward, and to have fun.

But for some cities, his scavenger hunts became more of a headache than a fun time.

In May, a crowd converged at the Burbank Empire Center, dashing across traffic and leaving behind illegally parked cars. And people searching for cash in Whittier in June destroyed fences, sprinklers, trees and other plants at William Penn Park. Buzi offered the city $5,000 to pay for the damage.

Still, the scavenger hunts continued, wrapping up Aug. 3 at a beach in New York City.

Buzi and Budman said they will miss organizing the hunts, and "seeing so many smiling and happy faces, of all ages and backgrounds coming together."

"This does not mean we are abandoning our mission of bringing people together in a fun and positive way, or of giving back," they said. "If anything, we are more determined than ever to keep doing that, reinforced by the love from our fans and witnessing first-hand what a positive impact can be made."

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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