It's been shared over 1,700 times on Facebook and been included in local TV station newscasts. And it's a fake.

Chances are if you’ve watched the local news, listened to the radio, or been on social media in the last few days you’ve heard something about so-called “creepy clowns” prowling the Boderland.

Several unverified photos and numerous uncorroborated reports of creepy clowns appearing in parks, school grounds, and other locations around the city have been posted and shared on social media. None more the the one above of a Bozo-like clown holding balloons and lurking "by the trolley construction" downtown.

But it turns out we've been had.

The person behind the viral hoax, a tattoo artist who goes by Darth-Mitchell Dean on his Facebook account, owned up to doctoring the photo to Lisa Sanchez, an on-air personality on our sister station, KLAQ. "It wasn’t [even] a good Photoshop job," Mitch admitted to Sanchez. "I (just) wanted to see how many people I could convince."

Well, I guess he got his answer; plenty. Including me. I was one of those suckers who rep-posted the picture while breathlessly reporting on the creepy clown phenomenon without verifying its credibility. Shame on me. I should have been more dubious.

Upon closer inspection I now notice how everything in the photo but the clown is casting a shadow. And a quick Google search of creepy clown images turns up an old picture of a clown that looks exactly like the one Mitch manipulated and blended into a photo he said he took of a portion of Sante Fe street behind the El Paso Convention Center.

I suspect, however, that despite the admission to its lack of authenticity it will continue to be circulated as fact on social media as it appears to have taken on a life of its own.

Because you know what they say; if it's on the Internet it must be true. *Sigh*