If you’ve received a message asking you to WhatsApp an unidentified number called Momo, don’t do it. The Momo Challenge hides a sinister purpose that is worrying people—parents especially—all over the world.
The nightmare began a while back in several European countries. However, it escalated over the weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina when a 12-year-old girl committed suicide, and the authorities have reasons to believe that she was talked into doing it as part of the Momo Challenge. If what they believe is true, this will be the first reported casualty of the viral and dangerous phenomenon in Argentina—the challenge has allegedly been linked to 130 deaths in Russia!
According to Astro Awani, the WhatsApp-based game requires one to chat with someone called Momo, and once contact has been established, Momo will swamp the chat with disturbing images and messages that encourage violence and suicide. More often than not, Momo will also claim to have private information about the messenger, and will threaten to release the details if the game’s orders aren’t followed.
The profile image that is being used to represent Momo is a creepy figure with bulging eyes and a bizarre wide smile. It’s originally a creation by Japanese doll artist Midori Hayashi. However, both the artwork and artist are not associated with the challenge in any way.
So far, Momo has been reported in Russia, Argentina, Mexico, United States, France, and Germany, and has been traced back to multiple phone numbers in Japan, Colombia and Mexico. While the exact motive of this challenge is still unclear, authorities claim that it’s a form of ‘bait’ used by criminals to steal personal data and extort people.
As the police attempt to catch the culprit and put this to a stop, parents all over the world are being advised to monitor their children’s Internet and social media use.