More than 750 fraud convictions were handed down in the Western Bay of Plenty last financial year, most for obtaining by deception.
The Ministry of Social Development is warning beneficiary fraudsters that they are stealing from taxpayers, and offenders will be prosecuted.
Bay of Plenty police district spokeswoman Kim Perks said the most common offending locally tended to be credit card and Eftpos fraud. Many of the cases resulted from cards being stolen in burglaries or from insecure vehicles.
"In addition, police in Bay of Plenty continue to see a variety of email scams suggesting that the receiver of the email is a beneficiary or a prizewinner and they need to part with some money in order to release the funds.
"These scams generally originate from overseas.
"Police continue to remind people that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is."
Last week, a Tauranga City councillor became the latest victim of an identity theft scam.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend received an email claiming to be from councillor Murray Guy saying he had been mugged and robbed in the Philippines and was appealing for funds to help settle the hotel bill.
Mr Guy said it was the second time in 18 months his email account had been hacked, but as far as he knew no one had been sucked in by the scam.
His wife had been hit by a similar scam, which claimed she was stuck in the United States.
Figures from Statistics New Zealand show 764 fraud convictions were handed down in Western Bay last financial year - down from 922 in the 12 months prior.
Nearly all last year's fraud convictions (737) were for people obtaining by deception.
However, six convictions were recorded for deceptive business/government practices, three for forgery and counterfeiting, and 18 for other fraud and deception offences.
Last November, 83-year-old Eileen Marie Farquer was sentenced to 12 months' home detention for fleecing the system for one-quarter of a century, pocketing almost $215,000 in benefit payments.
According to court documents, Farquer used the name Lee J Strauss in 1987 to get an unemployment benefit, and continued to receive benefits in that name until June 3 - a period of 25 years.
Nationally, 13,349 convictions were handed down for fraud in the year ending June 30, 2012 - an increase on the previous year.
Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Iona Holsted said each year it administered around $16 billion of social assistance. More than $23 million in benefit fraud was detected last financial year and 714 successful benefit fraud prosecutions were carried out by the ministry.
The ministry had around 100 fraud investigators working to catch benefit cheats, she said.
An allegation phone line received nearly 15,000 calls last year.
Those who stole from taxpayers were taking money from individuals and communities that genuinely needed it, Ms Holsted said.
The Serious Fraud Office uncovered more than $2.2 billion of fraud last financial year. The figure encompassed the investigation into South Canterbury Finance - the largest New Zealand fraud case of its kind. Twenty-one charges were laid against five individuals totalling $1.8 billion.