CALIFORNIA—A clown hoax has been spreading across the state and nation that has led local authorities to warn the public. In this clown hoax, suspects are being arrested as they dress as clowns to “scare” citizens and some of the suspects have been armed.

Two recent incidents occurred in Southern California. In Fontana, a 14 year-old was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats on Wednesday, October 5. The suspect was identified as the “Fontana Killer Clown” through his social media page. The authorities were contacted after receiving calls of threats on social media.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department warned citizens of the “clown prank” after several incidents in Lancaster. In three separate incidents, a group of males wore clown masks and armed with kitchen knives attempted to “scare” pedestrians.

Los Angeles Unified School District Police Chief Steven Zipperman said that several Los Angeles Unified School District schools “have fielded calls from concerned parents regarding social media reports of individuals with a clown persona committing potential acts of violence.”

Another incident occurred in the Bay Area on Wednesday, October 5. Concord police investigated an incident where a man dressed as a clown attempted to kidnap a one year-old girl. The mother of the girl was able to save her daughter from the attempted kidnapping.

Other incidents have occurred across the country with arrests being made for social media threats. In Michigan, two teenagers were arrested for threats on social media, and in Connecticut two teenage girls were charged with making threats.

Citizens who make their living as “real” clowns say they have been losing business due to the hoax. Reports also indicate that the sale of clown costumes has risen 300 percent this year.

There is even a Twitter handle, @ClownsSightings, dedicated to posting about various clown sighting across the U.S. The page was created in May 2015 and states, “We post the scariest and creepiest clown sightings!”

Even horror author Stephen King, creator of the children terrorizing clown from the horror film, “It” has posted on social media about the clown hoax. “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria-most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh,” said King.