Is the Momo Challenge real, or an online hoax? Fact Check

BY CRAIG CHARLES ON FEBRUARY 25, 2019
https://www.thatsnonsense.com

A number of messages and warnings across the Internet describe an apparent phenomenon called the “Momo Challenge”. Many such warnings claim it is a game where children are tricked into performing increasingly violent acts including self-harm, sometimes even culminating in suicide.

Many such warnings claim the “game” is spreading on social media apps including Facebook and WhatsApp. The game is usually illustrated by a wide eyed, dark haired woman with creepy facial features.

An example is below.

FUMING IS NOT THE WORD, PASS THIS ON
So apparently there is a new thing called “the Momo challange” where this head thing is telling kids on YouTube to do dangerous stupid stuff. It starts with it coming out of an egg then develops in to hide and seek then moves on to more “fun stuff like” , turn the oven on, take pills, how to stab someone etc 😡
Your children will tell you this isn’t true as it threatens them not to say anything orels bad thing’s will happen to family members.
Apparently its leaked on to kids YouTube and comes on half way through a video to avoid being caught by adults and scares your kids in to saying nothing but doing dangerous stuff.
This has to be one of the most horrendous things iv ever seen. The face of it is a joke but the concept is horrendous.
Would hate for this to happen to any of my friend’s and family.
Until YouTube can 100% guarantee this is not a thing, there will be no more YouTube in this house.

Naturally the question many are asking – especially concerned parents – is whether the Momo Challenge is real, and should parents be alarmed?

The reality is that the Momo Challenge could be considered a number of different things, and whether it is real or something to be worried about largely depends on what you consider it to actually be in the first place.

“Momo” herself (or itself) isn’t real. It’s Internet folklore, rising up from the same murky corners of the Internet as other contemporary and passing crazes such as “Slenderman” and the very similar “Blue Whale”. The grotesque figure illustrating Momo is a sculpture, created by a Japanese special effects outfit called Link Factory. The figure is called “Mother Bird”, not “Momo”, and it’s got nothing to do with any sort of online challenge.

Additionally, there is no evidence that “Momo” can magically “hack” your phone, force her image to appear on your device or do any other sort of digital trickery, as claimed by many reports. There are no reports of “Momo” (or anyone purporting to be “Momo”) creeping into people’s rooms, or committing acts of murder for those that do not obey the “challenge”.

And there is no specific “challenge” either. There is no universal set list of tasks that those who engage in the “challenge” are told to do.

In this sense at least, Momo isn’t real. It isn’t a person, a monster, or any kind of individual hell bent on luring children or teenagers into committing acts of violence. There is no “Momo”, other than what we – and the Internet – make Momo out to be.

Taking a more pragmatic approach, while Momo isn’t real in the above sense, the Momo Challenge is a real phenomenon, perhaps most accurately described as somewhere between a viral prank, a media-fuelled alarmist craze and a potential form of cyber-bullying that should indeed be a genuine concern for parents.

It’s 90% Prank

If you come across Momo’s image, or references to her, on the Internet, it’s likely to be the prank side you’re seeing. Reports are commonplace that Momo has been “spotted” in Facebook groups, YouTube videos, in user-generated games such as Minecraft and Roblox as well as other corners of cyberspace.

But it’s unlikely that some obscure, ethereal being has infiltrated that part of the Internet looking for its next would-be victims. What you’re seeing is what the Internet does best. The proliferation of a prank. Keeping a craze alive. Scaring children, and needlessly alarming parents. For example, one thing we persistently notice after debunking viral “hacker” warnings on social media is that in the direct aftermath of the viral hoax, we see a surge of new social media accounts appear using the same name as the alleged hacker. The new accounts are not hackers, of course. Rather just pranksters cashing in on the popularity of the hoax.

Media fuelled craze

When it comes to clickbait, headlines don’t get better when discussing panic-inducing Internet challenges that have been ambiguously “linked” to teenage suicides. It’s the sort of headline that attracts clicks like a flame attracts moths. Which is why you’ll find no shortage of media outlets breathlessly warning parents to keep their children safe from Momo.

But in 2018, an Indian fact-check website investigated several cases of suicides in India and Argentina where local media had claimed the Momo Challenge was involved. In every case, police had either denied that the Momo Challenge played any part in the deaths and the link was erroneous, or that other more overriding factors (low school grades, depression, sexual abuse) had played a more significant role.

A form of cyber-bullying

While media are often quick to report on vague “links” between suicides and Internet crazes, phenomena like the Momo Challenge can serve a real purpose in that they can demonstrate the inherent dangers of allowing children and young teens to use the Internet unsupervised.

Whether it’s the dangers of being exposed to mature content, the dangers associated with connecting with strangers or the danger of cyber-bullying, the Momo Challenge serves as a timely reminder that the Internet can be a dangerous place for both young and vulnerable minds.

Protecting your children as they use the Internet is paramount. This includes supervising what they see, blocking or preventing access to platforms that contain adult content, educating children on popular Internet threats, teaching them not to give away their personal information and perhaps most importantly encouraging an open dialogue where parents and children can be honest about what they encounter when using the Internet.

It is this approach that will best protect kids when using the Internet, and that encompasses passing crazes like Momo, and whatever her successor will be.

An opportunity for scammers?

Scammers and cyber-crooks will always looking for ways to exploit viral trends, and the Momo Challenge isn’t likely to be any different. Crooks may use search trends (people looking for information concerning Momo) to lure visitors to booby trapped websites, or may use the guise of Momo to trick victims into handing over sensitive information that may result in someone falling for a cyber scam such as identity theft.

Sextortion Scammers Using Email Address Spoofing to Fool Victims


written by Brett M. Christensen February 1, 2019
www.hoax-slayer.net

Fake blackmail sextortion scams are increasingly common. Typically, sextortion scammers send out thousands or even millions of identical emails claiming that they have captured video of the recipient visiting a porn site. The scammers threaten to send the compromising video to all of the recipient’s contacts if they do not receive a “keep quiet” payment via Bitcoin. But, the scammers have not created a compromising video. Nor have they hijacked the recipient’s contact list. The whole thing is a bluff. However, the scammers know that at least a few recipients will be panicked into sending the requested money. To increase their chances of success, the scammers use a variety of dirty tricks to convince potential victims that the claims in their fake blackmail messages are true.

Email Spoofing Trick
One such trick is to make it appear that the email was sent from your OWN account thereby supposedly proving that they have indeed compromised your device as claimed.

Here’s an example from a typical scam email:

Your account has been hacked by me in the summer of this year.I understand that it is hard to believe, but here is my evidence:
– I sent you this email from your account.
– Password from account [email address removed]: [password removed] (on moment of hack).

If you look at the sender address of the email, it will display YOUR email address. So, it may seem that the sender has indeed broken into your account to send the email. But the scammer has simply forged the header of the email so that your email address appears as the sender. This is a technique known as “spoofing’ and is not difficult to do. In other words, the email did not come from your account at all. It just looks that way because of the forged email headers.

Other Dirty Tricks
As I discuss in more detail in another report, the scammers often include user passwords in their scam emails as a way of making their false claim seem more plausible. And, in another variation, the scammers include the recipient’s phone number along with the password. The scammers are extracting passwords and phone numbers from old data breaches and automatically matching them to the corresponding email address. They can then distribute vast numbers of emails that are identical except for the password and phone number that matches each email.

Don’t Respond — Just Hit “Delete”
If you receive one of these scam emails, don’t be fooled. By including real passwords and real phone numbers, and making it appear that the recipient’s account sent the message, the scammers significantly increase the likelihood that their claims will be taken seriously. More people will fall for the ruse and send their money to the criminals. But, despite these clever tricks, the emails are still just empty bluffs. To reiterate, the sender has not hacked your computer and has not created a compromising video of you.

Don’t respond. Just hit the “delete” key.

New Phishing Email – Don’t get caught

There is a new phishing email doing the rounds claiming your incoming emails are on hold and to click one of the actions listed in the email. ( see below )

There are a number of clues to prove its spam.

Firstly the from address on service@vienna.taskwunder.com – not any Office 365 admin email address I’ve ever heard of! 🙂

Secondly – hover (don’t click) the links – they link to www.nlsandton.me – again not any email provider anyone’s ever heard of.

If you get this mail – simply delete it! 🙂

Lloyds Bank fake email “FW: Incoming BACs Documents”

Just received the email below – proporting to be from Lloyds Bank – looks genuine enough but clearly it is just another phishing email looking to grab some details off you or drop some malware or Virus on your PC. If you receive this email – delete it. Do not click on the PDF link in the email

If you have already done so – contact me and I can clean your PC for you. If you don’t have a decent anti-virus – I can help you there too as I resell BitDefender GravityZone – one of the best on the market.

Look out for Office 365 Phishing email

I received this email this morning (below) which looks genuine enough at the first glance – however – hover over the ‘rectify issue’ button and you get taken off to some bizarre phishing site were you to click the link – be aware and don’t fall for these emails – if in doubt ask somebody in the know or simply hover over the button to display the destination ( this one went to http://fatebegins.com/localization/customize/index.php – clearly not a Microsoft site!

Beware new WhatsApp Scam

A scam text message has been doing the rounds stating that WhatsApp is about to start charging people to use the service. It is not true.

The text message invites people to click on a link and pay 99p for a lifetime subscription to the service because their current subscription has come to an end.

However, it is a scam and anyone who receives it should delete it immediately, do not click in the link and certainly don’t hand over your bank details.

If you have clicked the link then you’re probably wise to run antivirus software.

When it was launched, WhatsApp did charge 99p after the first year but that was later scrapped.

It was not immediately clear where the scammers had got people’s telephone numbers from.

Google Phishing Scam : Beware new scam targeting Googlemail

A huge scam is sweeping the web and anyone with a Gmail account may be vulnerable.

 

A huge scam is sweeping the web and anyone with a Gmail account may be vulnerable. Huge numbers of people may have been compromised by the phishing scam that allows hackers to take over people’s email accounts. It’s not clear who is running the quickly spreading scam or why. But it gives people access to people’s most personal details and information, and so the damage may be massive.

The scam works by sending users an innocent looking Google Doc link, which appears to have come from someone you might know. But if it’s clicked then it will give over access to your Gmail account — and turn it into a tool for spreading the hack further.
As such, experts have advised people to only click on Google Doc links they are absolutely sure about. If you have already clicked on such a link, or may have done, inform your workplace IT staff as the account may have been compromised. The hack doesn’t only appear to be affecting Gmail accounts but a range of corporate and business ones that use Google’s email service too.

If you think you may have clicked on it, you should head to Google’s My Account page. Head to the permissions option and remove the “Google Doc” app, which appears the same as any other.
You’ll be able to tell if it is the malicious app if it has a recent authorisation time. That app has full access to a person’s Google account as well as being able to send emails that appear to be from them, making the attack especially dangerous. The email itself comes addressed to hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com — which is the only way to know that the email is malicious. They otherwise look completely legitimate, including the account in the “from” field.

Facebook Hoax

If you get a Facebook message with the follwing text

Tell all contacts from your list not to accept a video called the “Sonia disowns Rahul “. It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it today on the radio.

Do not share it as it is a hoax. It will not format your mobile and you probably won’t ever be sent the so called video

http://www.snopes.com/sonia-disowns-rahul-hoax/

Phishing email that knows your address

Something you need to be aware of, posted on the BBC ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35977227 )

emailscam

A new type of phishing email that includes the recipient’s home address has been received by thousands of people, the BBC has learned.
Members of the BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours team were among those who received the scam emails, claiming they owed hundreds of pounds to UK firms.
The firms involved have been inundated with phone calls from worried members of the public.
One security expert warned clicking on the link would install malware. You and Yours reporter Shari Vahl was one of the first on the team to receive an email. “The email has good spelling and grammar and my exact home address…when I say exact I mean, not the way my address is written by those autofill sections on web pages, but the way I write my address. “My tummy did a bit of a somersault when I read that, because I wondered who on earth I could owe £800 to and what was about to land on my doormat.” She quickly realised it was a scam and did not click on the link. “Then, a couple of minutes later, You and Yours producer Jon Douglas piped up as he’d received one and then another colleague said he’d received one too, but to his home email address,” she added.
The You and Yours team decided to contact the companies that were listed in the emails as being owed money.
A spokesman for British Millerain Co Ltd, a waxed cotton fabric manufacturer, told the programme that the firm “had more than 150 calls from people who don’t owe us money”.

And a spokeswoman for Manchester shelving firm Greenoaks said: “My colleague took a call from an elderly gentleman and he was very distressed because his wife had had one of these emails.”

Dr Steven Murdoch, principal research fellow at the department of computer science at University College London, told You and Yours: “Most likely it was a retailer or other internet site that had been hacked into and the database stolen, it then could have been sold or passed through several different people and then eventually it got to the person who sent out these emails.” He said that the email bore the hallmark of previous phishing attempts from gangs in Eastern Europe and Russia. He said that clicking on the link would install malware such as Cryptolocker, which is a form of ransomware that will encrypt files on Windows-based computers and then demand a fee to unlock them.
Anyone receiving such an email is advised to delete it and report it to the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud.

Facebook to alert you of impersonation accounts

Apparently Facebook is testing a ‘troll detection’ engine that will scan its billions of users for accounts which appear to be impersonating others, and flag up imitations. According to Mashable it has been in development since November but is now live for 75 percent of the world.

Antigone Davis, the social network’s head of global safety, said impersonation alerts were intended to minimise the harassment of women on the platform. “It’s a real point of concern for some women in certain regions of the world where it [impersonation] may have certain cultural or social ramifications,” Davis said.

When the new feature detects a user with the same name and profile picture as another, the new tool will send an alert to the suspected target. Mashable reports that the alert will ask the person to confirm the impersonation by using personal information. The process is automated but profiles that are flagged as fake will be reviewed by Facebook staffers.

Impersonation of another user is outlawed because it falls under the company’s controversial ‘real names’ policy. Since its launch the company has insisted that users provide their real names, rather than a pseudonym or other names a person may use to ensure they are not easily found on the site. “We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you’re connecting with,” Facebook’s policy page on the issue says.

However, after a coalition of human rights and privacy groups complained that the name policy “exposes its users to danger, disrespects the identities of its users, and curtails free speech,” Facebook introduced new tools to make verification easier. In December Mark Zuckerbrerg’s company started testing a tool, in the US, that allows those required to prove their identity to say if they have a “special circumstance”.

The UK is also moving to make it easier for authorities to prosecute trolls who use fake profiles online. The move from the Crown Prosecution Service aims to clampdown on those that post “damaging or embarrassing” material.

As well as the impersonation feature Facebook is also reportedly testing new ways for people to report nonconsensual intimate images — commonly referred to as revenge porn — that are posted to the site.

Facebook is apparently testing a new way of reporting nudity; when someone reports an inappropriate photo they will have the ability to identify themselves as the person in the photo. Facebook will then review the images as standard, but Mashable reports that when this happens it will provide links to support groups and potential legal options.

Recently WIRED reported on the cases of several users who had sensitive photos posted to Facebook. The issue, which is a growing one across all social media platforms, was described by legal experts as having “no silver bullet”.

Mary Anne Franks, Law professor, University of Miami School of Law, said that as a society we need to change laws, technology and culture.

This article was published on www.wired.comhttp://bit.ly/1MlPnCR )