The death of a 12-year-old girl has been tied to a new online ‘challenge’ that is being compared to the Blue Whale ‘suicide game’ that is believed to be responsible for 130 deaths in Russia.
The latest threat is a game called “Momo” that appears to have originated in Japan and has become popular in Central and South America, according to the Daily Mail. The 12-year-old girl was found dead in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and reportedly filmed the events leading up to her death.
According to a report in the Buenos Aires Times, the girl was found hanged from a tree in her parents’ backyard. The teens and children who died as a result of Blue Whale are believed to have taken their own lives.
Momo is a social media account that communicates with users with users via the WhatsApp internet messaging service. Its avatar is a female character with distorted features. According to the Sun, the avatar is inspired by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, though the artist has no association with the sinister online challenge.
Warning to parents after 'suicide challenge' similar to the 'Blue Whale' challenge spreads https://t.co/O7FQFnKqdm
— The Sun (@TheSun) August 2, 2018
“It all started in a Facebook group where participants were challenged to start communicating with an unknown number,” the Computer Crime Investigation Unit of the State of Tabasco, Mexico, wrote on Twitter, according to a BBC Portugal report translated by the Daily Mail.
“Several users said that if they sent a message to Momo on their cell phone, the response came with violent and aggressive images, and some say they had messages answered with threats.”
Police in Argentina are reportedly investigating the girl’s relationship with an 18-year-old boy she met on social media, who they appear to believe has ties to her Momo activity, according to a 9 News Australia report.
“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,” police said in a statement, according to the Buenos Aires Times.
The statement also said that police believe the girl’s “intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenged aimed at crediting the Momo game.”
Authorities are still looking for the 18-year-old boy suspected of influencing her Momo activity and subsequent death.
The girl’s name has not yet been released.