Police around the world are warning people against a WhatsApp game with an avatar believed to be from Japan after Argentinian authorities linked the messaging craze to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl.
Buenos Aires police are trying to determine whether the creepy “Momo Game” might have motivated the girl, who was found hanging from a tree on her family’s backyard in Ingeniero Maschwitz, Argentina, to commit suicide on July 22, according to Buenos Aires Times.
She reportedly filmed herself on her phone before committing suicide.
The teen also met an 18-year-old teenager on the social media platform, which is now being investigated by the police. The person has yet to be located, however.
“The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought,” officers said in a statement.
They also believe that the teenager’s “intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenged aimed at crediting the Momo game” for the suicide, the police added.
The WhatsApp-based “game,” which centers on a viral demon entity known as Momo, has become an urban legend among netizens. Some have tried to contact Momo accounts by adding or calling the “cursed hotline,” and reported receiving disturbing images and messages to their phone, according to RT.
Momo will then threaten the person on the other line suggesting that the entity will appear at night or curse the social media user.
It can also coerce users into doing dangerous tasks such as hurting themselves, and publicly share their private information if they refused to do what they are told, Heavy reported.
The disturbing avatar used in the Momo accounts was created by a Japanese special effects company, Link Factory, and not designed by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi as many people were initially led to believe. The actual sculpture was featured at an exhibit by Vanilla Gallery, Grapee reported.
It is based on a Japanese tale which depicts a yokai (apparition) known as Ubume, a spirit of a woman who haunts an area where she gave birth and offers her newborn baby to passersby which later turns into a heavy stone that crushes them.
The picture first surfaced on Aug. 25, 2016 when Instagram user @nanaakooo posted a photo of the sculpture online. Other Instagram users then began posting the same sculpture on the social media platform.
Mexican and Spanish police warned that the Momo game is nothing more than a viral hoax, which could lead to personal information hacking and blackmailing.
“Forget about absurd virals that are fashionable on Whatsapp,” Spain’s National Police wrote on Twitter.
⚠️Si esperas que #Momo salga de tu #smartphone como si de la peor “peli” de terror se tratase… Buuuu😱😱 ¡No te lo creas!
Olvídate de virales absurdos que se ponen de moda en @WhatsApp o #RRSS#PasaDeChorradas#SeListohttps://t.co/Ubh57LRMTy pic.twitter.com/ObEzcnLvTv
— Policía Nacional (@policia) July 18, 2018
Mexico’s Unit of Investigation of Cyber Crimes also warned people not to engage in conversation with people they don’t know online.
“Morbid curiosity or wanting to be popular, has led many young people to perform acts where they risk their lives,” the Mexican police said.
#UIDI #FGETabasco #Cibernetica #Tabasco #Villahermosa #PolicíaCibernéticaTabasco #SegurosAlNavegar #PrevencionDelitosCibernéticos #MOMO Advertencia por nuevo reto en niños y jóvenes, evita hablar con desconocidos, buscan obtener información que puede ser utilizada en tu contra. pic.twitter.com/FywFhZFyyH
— UIDI FGE Tabasco (@UIDIFGETabasco) July 12, 2018