Canadian police issued warnings last year about the Momo Challenge, a super disturbing phishing scam that targets young children and urges them to hurt themselves.
At least one death was linked to the "challenge" last year. Now, it appears the challenge is resurfacing, this time in the UK.
Northern Ireland police officers are issuing a warning, telling parents to monitor their children's online activities.
TL;DR Police in Northern Ireland are warning parents to monitor their children's online activities. Hackers use scams like the Momo challenge in order to get personal information, and can harm children.
The Momo Challenge shows up in seemingly child-friendly games and videos. Hidden messages urge children to contact "Momo" on whatsapp or snapchat.
Momo is often represented by an incredibly disturbing long-haired doll. The user urges children to do rapidly escalating "challenges," often ending in self-harm. One pediatrician has already highlighted some examples on her blog.
"Momo" tells victims that if they do not comply they will curse their families, or make threats. The motivation behind this is not clear. Police believe the hackers behind this want personal information.
As the police pointed out in a Facebook statement, Momo isn't the real danger: "as creepy as she looks, 'Momo' isn't going to crawl out of your childs phone and kill them. The danger lies with your child feeling pressured to either follow the orders of ANY app via 'challenges,' or peer pressure in chat rooms and the like."
"This is merely a current, attention-grabbing example of the minefield that is online communication for kids. In 2017 it was 'Blue Whale,' now it's 'Momo.' There'll be something else next."
Parents need to be constantly aware of what their children are consuming online. If you or someone you know are contacted by such a scam, contact your local authorities.
There's no telling where the Momo challenge will pop up next. Be careful!