PALO ALTO -- The man behind a viral campaign of free cash giveaways confirmed his identity Friday and said, "I really am just trying to give back."

Jason Buzi, who made a fortune flipping houses on the Peninsula, told the website The Bold Italic that he started the Twitter account @HiddenCash, which has been providing clues to the locations of stashes of cash around the Bay Area and Los Angeles for the past two weeks.

Buzi kept his identity hidden until he spoke with the television show Inside Edition anonymously, in an episode that aired Thursday, as the voice of @HiddenCash; the program used a voice expert to match that voice to Buzi, disputing his claims they were not the same person.

Marla Davies and Jeff Pope hold the $140 cash found by a camera shy fellow employee during a @HiddenCash treasure hunt in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday,
Marla Davies and Jeff Pope hold the $140 cash found by a camera shy fellow employee during a @HiddenCash treasure hunt in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The money was found across the street from the Greyhound Bus station in downtown San Jose. All three of these people work down the street for the radio station, MIX 106.5. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group) ( Gary Reyes )

"I shouldn't have agreed to do that interview," Buzi told the San Francisco online magazine. "But they were persistent, and they had a voice expert."

Bundles of paper bills began appearing in San Francisco on May 23, with clues to whereabouts posted on Twitter to a following that quickly ballooned after media began reporting on the giveaway. The drops soon expanded to Oakland and San Jose, then Buzi and buddies moved the campaign down to Los Angeles last weekend, where Buzi said hundreds and possibly thousands were flooding areas where money was dropped.

With the attention his campaign received, Buzi said he has now recruited five other like-minded individuals to fund the giveaways, while he will become spokesman with his identity known to the public.


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Buzi told the website that he understood criticisms that his campaign of giving away pots of $100 or less trivializes the need in the Bay Area, especially coming from someone who profited during the foreclosure crisis that walloped the region's housing market.

"I'm totally mindful of that," he told The Bold Italic. "I wasn't born wealthy. So many people I know have done better than me, and they're not doing anything to give back. So it's strange for someone who gives back to be criticized for how they give money. I really am just trying to give back."

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.