SINGAPORE: Turn up at 12pm at Raffles Place and pay S$3 into a box to get S$50 in return was the premise of what seemed to be a publicity stunt on Wednesday (Feb 28).
But the excitement of the afternoon ended after an hour, as hundreds of people had gathered in hopes of getting free money, resulting in the organiser calling a halt to proceedings.
The crowd, that was jostling and shoving around the box, was asked to disperse at 12.45pm by the organiser, who was previously seen talking to two uniformed police officers for about 10 minutes.
The organiser claimed that she was told to stop by the police.
“I’m very sorry but because the police is already here, we have to stop the activation. It’s very unfortunate that we cannot continue so for your safety, please slowly disperse from this location,” the organiser told the disappointed crowd.
Earlier that morning at 11.30am, about 300 people were seen lining up in front of the cash vending machine, called #3dollarballer on its website, that was stationed just outside Chevron House.
At 11.45am, efforts were made by the organiser to move the box to the pavement by Battery Road - triggering a mad rush as crowds surged forward to follow the money booth.
Then at 12pm, the box was shifted once more to the grass patch in front of Chevron House where the crowd grew in strength.
The first person to successfully feed the machine S$3 to receive her S$50 was 30-year-old Ms Kate Koh.
“I work around here and my colleague told me about this event happening. I was quite lucky because I was standing near the area the box moved to,” she said.
Channel NewsAsia saw six people successfully try the cash vending machine.
Another man who got his chance, Mr Jeffrey Yao, said he only followed the crowd after seeing the box.
"I was just passing by, so I didn’t know what was going on. I queued for about 20 minutes to get the S$50," the 74-year-old said.
Teenager June Yeo did not get her chance, however. She waited for about an hour in line.
"It’s quite sad that I didn’t manage to get (the money). But I think this kind of thing is good because who doesn’t want free money?" said the 16-year-old.
Another teenager who did not want to be named told Channel NewsAsia that the crowd scared him. “All this pushing and shoving, I’m wondering now if it is worth it,” he said.
Mr Ash Low, 28, turned up only because he wanted to find out who is behind the stunt after finding out about it on Instagram.
"I think it is quite interesting as they haven't revealed who is behind this so I want to find out," Mr Low said, adding that he had intended to spend the entire lunch time here.
"We wanted to come early at first because we were not sure how it was going to turn out. But looks like there is a very big turn out."
The "vending machine" was in fact a man in a box that handed out S$50 bills to people who inserted S$3 into the slot. He was seen playing games with participants, often sticking out the bill and pulling it back in when they tried to reach for it.
The man was also seen climbing in and out of the box as it was moved around.
The promotion, which has gained prominence on social media, was due to make another appearance at 313@Somerset this afternoon, according to its website. It appeared on Orchard Road on Tuesday between 5pm and 8pm.
However, a post uploaded to the campaign's Instagram page said the organiser would "no longer push through" with Wednesday's second instalment "as all the S$50 notes (have been) fully redeemed".
"Watch this space tomorrow to see what S$3 can get you!" the post added.
On Thursday, Singapore telecoms service provider Circles.Life claimed responsibility for the stunt.
Channel NewsAsia understands the event organiser did not apply for a permit and that the police were there to check on the situation.
Additional reporting by Christy Yip.