Pune: After the first case of death was reported allegedly because of Momo Challenge – an online game which is following the footsteps of Blue Whale Challenge, Cyber Crime Cell of Pune police have decided to conduct a special awareness programme regarding the deadly cyber-bullying game in schools across the city.
The decision to spread the awareness in schools regarding ‘Momo Challenge’ came in the wake of the suicide committed by Class X student in Ajmer, Rajasthan, who ended her life by hanging herself after slitting her wrist.
Jyoti Priya Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing and Cyber Crime, said, “We are already conducting campaigns on cyber crimes in school, but now we are also going to conduct the special awareness campaign about ‘Momo Challenge’ in all the schools of the city as it is a possible threat to school children.
‘Momo WhatsApp Challenge’ which has attained the notoriety online on the lines similar to the deadly ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ first came to light when a 12-year-old girl ended up her life in the month of July 2018, in Maschwitz, Argentina.
The game which is widely circulated on social media through the platforms of WhatsApp, Youtube and Facebook is targeting young children and teenagers.
According to a cybercrime expert Rohan Nyayadheesh, the deadly game is gradually attaining notoriety in India and he has received emails demanding assistance from quite a few people from Tamil Nadu who have received messages on WhatsApp to play Momo Challenge from the international numbers (+15645485423, +1(315)210-4690, +1 623 469 4233).
About the deadly game
Nyayadheesh said, “The challenge begins as the participant receives a text from ‘Momo’ to communicate with an unknown number. The unknown number calls and uncomfortable noises are heard, as though someone is crying in pain. Just like the Blue Whale Challenge, this challenge, too, includes a series of small tasks followed by the last task, being suicide. Momo reportedly sends disturbing images and threatens users if they refuse to participate.
“In the game one receives a message on WhatsApp or a friend request on Facebook. If in case the person starts communicating with the Momo Challenger, the challenger invites him/her to play a game and if the person denies the request of challenger the challengers tricks him and hacks his/her phone probably using hacking software ‘payload’ which led to the unending game of blackmail culminating in to suicide,” he added.
Children, teens on high risk
Niranjan Reddy, a city-based cybercrime expert, said, “Similar to the Blue Whale Game, Momo WhatsApp suicide game also gives life-threatening challenges to children, such as shooting your own suicide video, watching horror movies alone and waking up at unusual hours. This new online deadly game is largely targeting young children as they can be easily deceived and can fall prey to these cyber-bullies. The children who play with phones all the time are more exposed to such threats. So parents should keep an eye on what their children are doing on phones or Facebook. They should keep an eye that whom the children are communicating to though messengers in order to save them from falling victim to such games.”
“Other than cell phones, the social media accounts of children and teenagers can also be used as a medium of communication in such deadly games, for that matter any kind of messenger including Facebook or others can be used. As games like Momo Challenge cannot launch apps or websites due to security reasons they operate over messaging apps which are free of cost and have easy access to children, ” added Reddy.
As per the media reports available on the Internet, the scary image of a doll used on the account of ‘Momo Challenge’ is a sculpture named ‘Mother Bird’ which was created by the Japanese special effects company Linked Factory and was on also displayed at Horror Art Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo.