Update: Police have now recently issued further warnings about the "Momo" game being related to data harvesting schemes.

Authorities in several countries have issued warnings over the spread of a disturbing viral game. The game challenges users on WhatsApp to message the mysterious contact "Momo", who then reportedly antagonizes the user with threatening messages and unsettling images. The account, which is currently being investigated for links to criminal activity, uses the horrifying image of a demon lifted from the artwork of Japanese special effects artist Keisuke Aiso, who has nothing to do with the game itself.

The original image, which created a Creepypasta and urban legend based around being cursed if one contacts Momo, is actually the work of Keisuke Aiso, a Japanese special effects artist for Link Factory, and was featured at an exhibit by Vanilla Gallery (who are known for fetish and underground artwork).

The grotesque work of art is based off of the tale of the Japanese yokai (apparition) Ubume, the spirit of a woman who haunts the area in which she gave birth and offers those who pass by with her baby, which gradually turns into a heavy stone that crushes them to death. Because of the different characters used to write the name, she is sometimes linked to another spirit--the ubumetori, or "child snatching bird".

色 -shiki-さん(@shiki_official)がシェアした投稿 -

ナナ子さん(@nanaakooo)がシェアした投稿 -

Momo's popularity isn't just limited to the terror she inflicts upon those who cross her path, however, as she's even been cutesified and honored with artwork across the internet.

柳さん(@_ivy_www_)がシェアした投稿 -

Rena Barbieさん(@barbierena)がシェアした投稿 -

Authorities in multiple countries believe the urban legend has taken a turn for the worse, however, the BBC reports. The Buenos Aires Times reports that police in Argentina are investigating a possible connection of the Momo Whatsapp account to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl.

Police in several countries are using an information campaign to discourage contact with the account, which they suspect is exploiting the popularity of the urban legend to encourage those who message it to inflict self-harm. Spain’s Guardia Civil warns that contact with the number puts your personal information at risk.

The Computer Crime Unit of Tabasco in Mexico warns that partaking in the challenge jeopardizes personal information for the purposes of extortion, and whoever is operating the account intends to incite violence, self-harm, and stress, particularly if the user does not respond or obey challenges.

While there has been no definitive findings (as of the time of writing) in this reported "suicide challenge", it is safe to say that given the explicit warning of so many authority agencies, the game is dangerous and should not be played. It's terrible that the artist's original work could possibly be linked to something so sinister, but perhaps appreciation of the original image should focus on the artwork and yokai folklore behind it.

By - Big Neko.