A GIVEAWAY turned to chaos this evening as hundreds of people descended on Basingstoke railway station in the hope of getting their hands on free cash.

The area was packed by 4.45pm as people congregated outside for the chance of receiving an envelope containing cash up to £50, being given away by cashback site Quidco.

As previously reported in the Gazette, the company chose Basingstoke as one of 10 locations to benefit from the freebie, which saw Quidco staff giving out 100 envelopes containing a total of £1,000 to random people.

The idea was to cheer people up on Blue Monday, known as the most depressing day of the year.

However, as word had spread of the giveaway, there was carnage as the crowds surged towards Quidco’s staff when they exited the train station at 5pm, leaving the exit totally blocked as passengers tried to leave during rush hour.

Simon Hatton, from South Western Railway, said they had not been informed by Quidco beforehand, and were concerned about the number of people congregating outside the station.

He said: “I went out there and tried to find out what was going on and someone said on social media people said free cash is being given out. I said it’s a scam.

“Because of the amount of people who were out there and pushing and shoving, and we had a train coming in, from a railway point of view it’s a security issue. It was genuine, but what’s to say another day someone puts something on social media and someone has a bomb in a back-pack.

“If we were aware of it, we wouldn’t have allowed it there.”

Holly Tisdale, who was giving out the envelopes with cash for Quidco, said they weren’t expecting so many people.

She added: “As soon as we came through the barriers we were mobbed. We thought we would wait for a while but it was crazy.”

Asked if Quidco had given her any health and safety advice as to what to do if lots of people turned up, she said: “We didn’t realise it would be this crazy, so no.”

She said some people tried to grab handfuls of envelopes, adding: “We were trying to share them out. There were lots of disappointed people.”

Will Dawson was one of those. The 27-year-old travelled from Chobham in Surrey in the hope of getting some free cash, but because of the crowds ended up missing out.

He said: “I thought it’s only half an hour away for me. I turned up at 5pm and saw a queue and thought I’m not going to get anything.”

However, Anca Ardeleanu was delighted to have found £5 in the envelope she was given. The 16-year-old said: “I’m going to spend it on food.”