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These Are Not The Clowns Who Are Scaring A South Carolina Town

Photos circulating among residents of Greenville and in the media were originally posted on Facebook by a performance art duo in New Hampshire.

Posted on August 30, 2016, at 7:47 p.m. ET

ICYMI, residents of Greenville, South Carolina, have been on edge after several people reported seeing clowns trying to lure children into the woods.

It got to the point that property managers at the Fleetwood Manor apartments sent a warning letter to residents.

"There [have] been several [conversations] and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing talking to children or trying to lure children into the woods,” the letter stated.

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office received two calls regarding clowns on Aug. 20, and one resident filed an incident report the next day.

On Monday, a photo began to be passed around by residents. One woman shared it with BuzzFeed News, saying she had gotten it from a friend who got it from a friend. Though she didn't take the photo, the redheaded clown looked familiar, she said.

The photo was also given to the Greenville County Sheriff's Office and other media outlets.

Greenville County Sheriff's Office was given these photos of reported clowns in the woods, cannot confirm legitimacy

But from the beginning, sheriff's deputies were not convinced the photos were taken in their area. A spokesman for the sheriff's office told BuzzFeed News that Greenville has red clay dirt — not the brown soil that can be seen in the photo.

It turns out the creepy clowns in the photo have never even been to South Carolina. They're a performance art group in New Hampshire called the Plymouth Clowns.

The photo was posted several weeks ago on the Plymouth Clowns' Facebook page. It was then taken and reposted on Sunday — without the clowns' permission — by We Are Naptown, a page of memes sometimes about Indianapolis with about 16,000 likes.

The duo behind the Plymouth Clowns told BuzzFeed News they were upset to see their photo paired with a story about potential criminal activity. "We do not chase, jump, or follow people, and do not interact with people unless they approach us first," clown Mistress Manic said.

In fact, the Plymouth Clowns take pride in being responsible creepy clowns. Police are aware of their group, Mistress Manic said, and a recent Facebook post stated that they were taking a break from nighttime clowning to avoid the crowds and drinking that came with the start of the college semester.

Facebook: theplymouthclown

When the clowns are not standing solemnly in the woods, their photos show them posing with smiling fans. Mistress Manic said they've been met with positivity from their community.

Facebook: theplymouthclown

The redheaded clown is an art major, she explained, and the group was started to promote a series of his short films and comic books. The response they got from the initial promotional work inspired them to keep going.

"We were met with a lot of positivity and encouragement from our town and so we've continued with outings," Mistress Manic said. "The police have full knowledge of us and we have fully permission to do what we're doing, and we even have people that sit with us for protection."

As for the masks, Mistress Manic said it's unlikely a resident in South Carolina saw the same ones. They were purchased from an Etsy shop that specializes in latex masks fitted to buyers' faces.

Facebook: theplymouthclown

In spite of receiving some negative attention this week, the clowns said they've also been introduced to new fans. "As a small town couple doing what we love it's been amazing to receive so much support and recognition," Mistress Manic wrote. "We can't wait to get back out and start seeing y'all more."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.