A young fraudster who used a dead man's name to obtain a fake passport and apply for large loans has been sentenced to just over two years' imprisonment.

Nathan Calder, 22, successfully obtained the passport of New Zealand-born Nicholas Rohdes, who died in the United States in 2014.

He then successfully applied for two loans, from Marac Finance and NZ Credit Union, of $8600 each using the fake document.

Calder then tried to obtain another passport in the name of a second deceased New Zealand-born American, but the fraud was detected by the Department of Internal Affairs.

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In Auckland District Court today, Judge Robert Ronayne said Calder had a history of fraud and was under supervision for another scam when he committed the latest offending in 2015 and 2016.

He sentenced him to two years and one month imprisonment on five charges: unlawfully obtaining a document, attempting to unlawfully obtain a document, using a false document and two charges of obtaining by deception.

The court was told that Calder searched the website Ancestry.com to find information about the two young men whose names he used in applying for fake passports.

Rohdes was born in Wellington while his parents were visiting from the United States. He died in 2014 in Pennsylvania.

The other was Sonny Kless, who was born in Whangarei while his parents were on holiday here. He died in a plane crash in Montana in 2010.

Judge Ronayne said after successfully obtaining a passport in Rohdes name, which showed a photo of Calder on the identity page, Calder opened a bank account with ANZ using the phoney document and was issued an Eftpos card.

Using the bogus account, he then successfully made loan applications to Marac and NZ Credit Union totalling $17,200.

In explanation, Calder said he came up with the scam after reading an article about suspected Israeli spies who attempted to obtain a New Zealand passport using the identity of a man with cerebral palsy, Judge Ronyane said.

Calder had told his probation officer that he used the money to pay for his university studies, rent and for his gambling and substance habits, the judge said.

Last year he was fined and sentenced to community work and supervision for several fraud-related charges including obtaining monetary advantage by deception, and accessing a computer for a dishonest purpose. That offending occurred in 2013 and 2014.

Judge Ronayne described Calder as a dishonest person with a "complete and utter lack of empathy" for his victims.

"While either facing court for fraud or subject to a sentence you committed this offending. That is somewhat brazen," he said.

"This was sophisticated, planned, premeditated offending."

Judge Ronayne said the crimes were "an attack on the integrity of our passport system", noting that the system was robust enough to catch Calder on his second attempt.

The judge gave him some credit for his relatively early guilty pleas, his youth and his expressions of remorse.

Calder's lawyer, Julie Ding, had submitted that a sentence of intensive supervision and community work was appropriate.

She said Calder was genuinely sorry and had already started making reparation payments to the victims of his earlier offending.

She said her client wished to make a donation to a charity so as to contribute to the community.

Judge Ronayne replied: "How do you think Marac ... would feel if he made a $1000 donation to charity?"

Ding said Calder would only do so after he had paid back his victims in full.

The court was told that Calder recently completed a course in radio broadcasting.

He appeared shocked as the sentence was read out, shaking his head and looking back at his five or six friends in the public gallery before being led away to the cells.