Some time ago, various GTA 5 and Online related community sites were flooded with people posting claims, with or without screenshots, that they've been randomly awarded various sums of money in the game, with $GTA 250K being the most common. Others were so lucky as to get the bonus two, three and even four times. At the same time, some players never got the handout.
We ran the story on this site both to raise awareness and hopefully discover the reason behind the handouts and what is needed to get them. While earning cash in the game isn't hard as long as you know what you're doing, free money is always cool. So unlocking the mystery would have been beneficial to the whole community.
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But then, the well of gifts seemingly dried up, as reports of these bonuses disappeared entirely. Here we are, with no clue as to what they were or why they were handed out. Not even the basis on which they were given out is known and it might never be recreated.
What we have are theories at best, but there are a few. The most plausible one is that long-time players were being thanked for their loyalty. We have yet to encounter any instance where someone who reported the reception of such a bonus was also a recently new player. That said, it's also true that people who didn't transfer over from the older gen got the bonus sometimes too.
Many often suggested that players were simply getting the bonuses from Shark Card rebates later than usual. However in some cases players were getting these handouts - even multiple times - even though they never ever bought a Shark Card. While this might have been true in a few instances, it cannot explain every case.
One pretty novel idea is that it is something of a finder's fee for reporting hackers who later get verified and banned. This might be Rockstar's way of rewarding vigilant players who, instead of groveling for a money drop, would rather see the banhammer descend and deliver justice upon those who deserve it.
But none of these versions explain why all of the sudden they stopped. Poof, into the air they went and no one has seen a random $GTA 250K grant in GTA Online for weeks. Could it even have been a bug of some sort, and Rockstar fixed it since? Maybe some vigilante dev snuck this into the game's code, but everyone reporting it on community sites led to it being tracked down and reverted?
The most infuriating thing about this is that we'll most likely never know. At the time, Rockstar was tight-lipped as to what the hell these random 250K money drops were about, and now that they're not even happening anymore, the chances of getting an official statement went from zero to less.
In a game where making cash is perceived to be as difficult as it is in GTA Online, the discovery of what lies behind this would have made some pretty serious waves in the community. But as things stand, this just might stay a mystery.