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Armored truck spills money on California freeway, sparking cash-grab frenzy

Authorities said people who took the money Friday need to return it or face possible criminal charges.

An armored truck dropped loads of cash onto a freeway in Carlsbad, California, causing a major traffic jam as motorists hopped out of their vehicles to scoop up the bills — but authorities say drivers need to return the money or face possible criminal charges.

Shortly before 9:15 a.m. Friday, the California Highway Patrol, or CHP, began getting 911 calls about cash scattered across part of Interstate 5 near Cannon Road.

CHP and the FBI, which are investigating, said several people got out of their vehicles to chase after the money.

"Many of the motorists returned the money immediately to the officers; however, there were motorists observed driving from the scene with stolen money," they said in a joint statement. "The CHP would like to thank those motorists who have already returned money to their local CHP office and remind the public to do the right thing and return any money they found on the freeway."

Authorities said videos and photos that were posted on social media recorded people's faces and vehicles' license plate numbers. The agencies released several photos showing people scooping up the bills.

In one photo, a woman wearing a grey hoodie is seen laughing as she holds a wad of cash in her arm. Other photos released by authorities were screen grabs taken from an Instagram video posted by the fitness influencer Demi Bagby.

"This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen," Bagby says in the video, which she shared with her more than 2 million followers. "Someone dropped money all over the freeway."

As Bagby pans the camera, people are seen grabbing cash from the street.

Bagby did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

The CHP and the FBI said Friday that anyone who took money needs to return it within 48 hours "in order to avoid a potential criminal charge."