Stolen passports have been altered in Whakatane to purchase goods through finance companies.

Whakatane Sergeant Caoin Macey said the stolen and altered passports had been obtained by Mongrel Mob associates who had used them to buy goods through finance companies.

He said two vehicles and a high end smart phone had been bought using the fraudulent passports in both Whakatane and Rotorua.

"Chinese, Australian and New Zealand passports in particular have been fraudulently altered," Mr Macey said. "Police wish to alert local businesses who may accept passports as identification to be alert to this activity.

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"It is often difficult to tell that a passport used as identification has been altered but there are some tell tail signs. Businesses should be extra vigilant if Chinese or Australian passports are used as identification and photocopies should never be accepted."

Mr Macey said three forms of identification should be requested and these cross checked against the passport.

"If in doubt call the police who can quickly and easily check the authenticity of the passport."

A 34-year-old man appeared in the Whakatane District Court on Wednesday on forgery and drugs charges and was remanded in custody until next week.