New Brunswick city captivated by mysterious figure offering clues to hidden cash

This photo was posted on the "Miramichi Mystery Machine" Facebook page along with the following clue: $100 bill at Ritchie Wharf is in the small treasure chest. (Miramichi Mystery Machine/Facebook)

A community in eastern New Brunswick has been captivated by a mysterious game that has residents following clues and searching for hidden $50 and $100 bills.

"The hunt is so fun," Miramichi resident Savannah Harris said in an interview Sunday. "I bring my little brother with me. It's high energy. You're looking everywhere."

Six prizes of $100 were found last week.

No one knows who's behind the game, started by a Facebook user who calls himself Roman Dungarvan.

The first hunt began May 2 when Dungarvan shared a clue for where to find $100 hidden at Ritchie Wharf. Subsequent clues appeared on the Miramichi Mystery Machine Facebook page, where successful searchers announce when they've found the cash.

The group has become a place where people brainstorm for solutions and share photos of their progress.

A description of the group suggests Dungarvan took his name from a ghost story about a young cook who was murdered and buried at a lumber camp along the Dungarvon River in the late 1800s. According to local lore, he haunts the site to this day, making terrible "whooping" sounds.

The main photo on the Facebook account features a faceless figure wearing a black hood.

"Beware the whooping screams that some still hear at night," the page description says.

When Harris joined the Facebook group last week, it had about 400 members. As of Sunday evening, there were more than 2,200 followers.

Clues typically involve horror movie references. One clue was a photo from the "Friday the 13th" series that featured a dog named Gordon. The cash for that round was hidden at Gordon's Wharf near the mouth of Miramichi River.

Meanwhile, it appears Dungarvan is watching when players are searching for the latest stash.

A message on the Facebook page alerted Samantha Savoie to the fact she was near the hidden prize on Friday. Dungarvan posted that a person in a grey hoodie -- what Savoie was wearing that day -- was "so close."

Savoie then watched as a nearby searcher swooped in and found the cash hidden in a small silver case.

"I was really happy for the lady that had won but, oh my goodness, we were so close," Savoie said in an interview.

No one seems to know who Dungarvan is or why they've decided to hide money for people to find. Harris said whoever they are, they seem to be "trying to give back" to the community.

"They haven't really asked for anything back from it," she said.

Dungarvan is encouraging successful searchers to donate a portion of their winnings to the local food bank.

One member of the Mystery Machine Facebook group thanked Dungarvan for creating the game, which has kept her kids playing outside and "making memories."

Dungarvan replied online: "That is 100 per cent why I came up with it. I wanted people to get outside and enjoy the community."

Savoie said the game has brought some excitement to the town. "There's not really a whole lot to do in Miramichi normally, so this gives you kind of a rush."

With interest growing, Dungarvan is promising a Friday the 13th search worth $1,300 -- and an invitation has been extended to people from out of town.

Savoie and Harris haven't found any cash yet, but they're hopeful Friday the 13th will be their lucky day.

-- By Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2022.

---This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.