16 Jan 2016

Group aims to stop people being duped

3:57 pm on 16 January 2016

A New Zealand human rights lawyer has joined forces with international experts to form a group aimed at stopping people being duped or used as drug mules.

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Photo: 123RF

Collectively known as MULE, the group consists of internationally experienced criminal lawyers, technology and media experts, scam survivors, investigators and family members of people facing serious charges overseas.

New Zealand criminal defence lawyer Craig Tuck said the group aimed to combat how the internet was being used to deceive and recruit people into criminal behaviours, which sometimes resulted in the death penalty.

The group's website would provide free advice and resources to people facing such dire circumstances.

"It is crucial that those arrested for serious crimes in foreign jurisdictions get immediate assistance to maximise their chances of the best possible outcome in their cases," he said.

Mr Tuck represented New Zealander Anthony de Malmanche, who was sentenced to 15 years in an Indonesian prison after being caught with 1.7kg of crystal methamphetamine.

The website will help prevent people who are seen as vulnerable by drug cartels from being manipulated.

"The problem is manifesting in people being exploited through various online means to, in the most serious cases, carry out criminal offending - we've seen that in some of the arrests in many countries for drug trafficking."

Anybody engaging with someone over the internet, via dating websites or social media and had a gut feeling something might not be right, should explore whether the person was genuine, he said.

Past victims of scams will also be available to give advice.

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