Key figure in Hidden Cash hunt is a Sacramento State alum

The driving force behind the wildly popular Hidden Cash treasure hunt that started in Sacramento today is a Sacramento State graduate and millionaire who said he launched the city-by-city cash spree to give back to the community “in a creative way.”

Jason Buzi, a 43-year-old real estate investor and entrepreneur, lived in Sacramento for two years while studying for a business degree. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, in 1995, university spokeswoman Kimberly Nava said.

“I’m a Sac State graduate, so I’m really excited to come to Sac as an alumnus,” said Buzi, who now lives in Palo Alto.

Hidden Cash started last month when a Twitter account gave the public clues to the location of envelopes containing $50 and $100 bills that were placed in various locations in New York, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and most recently London.

Since its inception, Hidden Cash has given away more than $20,000, Buzi said. The Twitter account had 640,000 followers as of Monday.

Buzi was among a core group of about five anonymous people behind the Hidden Cash treasure hunt, but his anonymity was broken two weeks ago. The television show “Inside Edition” used a voice-analysis expert to identify him after an interview, he said.

In Sacramento, as in other cities, cash hunters are following the @HiddenCash Twitter account for clues to where the envelopes are hidden in the capital city.

Buzi tweeted a hint from the @HiddenCash account at 8:30 p.m. Monday.

“First clue: Fill in the blanks for time and place: FAT_ _BIRD _ NEST,” @HiddenCash tweeted.

The hidden treasures were found at Sacramento State. Buzi said the envelopes will hold $70 to $100 each, and a total of $1,600 will be concealed.

Buzi said the response to his social-media-steered treasure hunts has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“I wanted to do something along the lines of bringing people together in a fun way,” Buzi said.

Sacramentans on Twitter appear to be just as excited about the one-day cash hunt as Buzi. Hundreds of Twitter followers have favorited and retweeted @HiddenCash’s Sacramento-related tweets.

“We’ve had more excitement about Sacramento than we have had in bigger cities like Chicago or London,” Buzi said.

Buzi wants to encourage treasure hunters to keep the search safe and fun. For those who find the money, he encourages them to “pay it forward.”