KANSAS CITY -- The hidden cash craze was supposed to be a fun way to do good in your community. But now, the woman behind the HiddenCashKS Twitter account says that’s all changed.
Kayla Lawson, who lives in Goodland, Kan., but runs the account for money drops state-wide, told FOX 4 fakes and criminals are trying to capitalize on the game’s popularity.
She said they are now creating their own accounts with similar names and asking people for donations and gift cards for drops they then pocket.
“They’re asking people to bring them cash personally and that’s not how you play the game,” Lawson said.
She said one scammer took it a dangerous step further, telling the winner to meet him in a secluded area to claim her prize. It’s a red flag, especially in a game popular with children.
“We don’t want somebody to get hurt –that’s the last thing we want,” Lawson said.
Police believe it was only a matter of time before criminals started capitalizing on the hidden cash phenomenon.
“Ultimately, you’re at their mercy,” said Jason Cooley with KCMO police. “If you lower your guard, and you’re not prepared with a plan, then you’re at risk.”
He suggests talking with your kids about stranger danger, especially online; go with them to a money drop and avoid neighborhoods you're unfamiliar with.
“If you think about it, somebody’s offering you $100, that $100 pales in comparison to the value of you and your safety and your life,” Cooley said.
It’s good advice in the midst of a fun social experiment that's now revealing a darker side.
“Money brings out the best in people and it can bring out the worst, obviously,” Lawson said. “It’s testing people to see how they're going to act in these situations."
Lawson posted several warnings on her Twitter page Tuesday. She told FOX 4 if the fake accounts and scary situations continue, she will shut it down.