A spectacularly creepy clown set off a social media frenzy after it was spotted prowling around Staten Island, but horror aficionados may be disappointed to learn that the "sightings" appear to have been a promotional gimmick for a local production company.
The New York Post was the first to spot the link between the four men who had posted pictures of the clown to Twitter and Instagram over a two-week period, noting that all had a connection to Staten Island-based Fuzz on the Lens Productions and that three of them were friends on Facebook.
Two of the men, Vincent Innocente and Vic Dibitetto, told the Staten Island Advance on Tuesday that it was no gimmick. Michael Leavy initially denied it as well but gave a tacit admisison when presented with evidence of the connections.
"It's a small island and we've been trying to get as many people associated with Fuzz on the Lens as possible," he told the paper.
If it was in fact a stunt, the clown appears to have had the intended effect of viral fame. The story was picked up by Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post and the UK's Daily Mail.
On Monday, Staten Island Representative Michael Grimm jokingly advised concerned residents on Twitter to report all clown sightings to the office of his fellow Republican, Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
"Rumor is he's organizing a Creeper-Clown Taskforce," Grimm wrote. "Godspeed Vinny!"