Players complain man running treasure hunt lied about hiding prize cash

BOSTON ( -- Free cash, a celebrity pitch and just $20 to strike it rich. That was what some signed up for, but say they didn't get what they paid for. However, the man running it tells a different story.

Several people spent weeks trying to find $20,000 dollars hidden in the Boston area, but now that the game is over some are saying they paid for a treasure hunt, but were sent on a wild goose chase.

X-marks was supposed to be a modern day treasure hunt that attracted more than 700 people who paid anywhere from $10 to $25 for premium memberships and clues to the hidden loot.

Aaron Leon found two of the boxes early on, but midway through the contest, he and other players began to think the game might not have been on the level.

X-marks was run by a Peabody man named Patrick Tarmey. Leon said after the first batch of winners were publicized, Tarmey stopped posting pictures of winners, yet claimed the money was still being found.

"He said it was found there were no pictures to prove it," Leon said. "That's what everybody who is playing wants to know: where is the money?"

FOX 25's Bob Ward tried to arrange a sit down interview with Tarmey, but ended up talking to him on the phone.

When asked if he did in fact hide all the money he said he was going to hide, Tarmey said he "hid every single penny" and that "all of it was claimed."

He confirmed that he awarded $17,000 to people who were out looking for these clues, but some players are still not convinced and at least two have complained to the attorney general.

Tarmey says, anyone who doesn't believe that he hid all the money can call him and ask for their money back.

"I feel like, if you feel this was not on the up and up, just send us an email, ask for a refund. No big deal. I'll be happy to give you your money back. I'd be happy to give all 727 subscribers their money back. If it makes them feel better," he said.

He said he stopped taking pictures of winners because he was getting a lot of grief online from people who doubted him and said the game was no longer fun. So he said he sent out checks to people who claimed they found the hidden boxes. And two of the boxes have never been found.