The Facebook account of a Rotorua district councillor was replicated by scammers seeking people's personal information and Netsafe says it could happen to anyone.
Councillor Peter Bentley became aware his Facebook had been replicated when friends started receiving strange messages from an account using his name.
"I made a complaint to Facebook and then on its advice I've gone back in and changed my password.
"I guess some people get their rocks off on it, but hopefully it will stop now."
Bentley was pleased people had realised it wasn't him, but Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said it could happen to anyone.
"There's not really anything you can do to prevent this if your image is out on the internet, and for most of us it is, then anyone could replicate it."
He said scams like this happened regularly and targeting "existing relationships" using social media was becoming common practice.
"Accounts can also be hijacked, but that requires some skill, copying it is even easier."
He said the first red flag was for people to question friend requests from people they already thought they were connected with.
"The second red flag is any request for money or critical details.
"If you feel comfortable doing so report it to Facebook or Instagram, whichever platform you're using.
"If you need additional support Netsafe is always here."
Rotorua Daily Post acting deputy editor Stephanie Arthur-Worsop was one of those contacted by the fake account.
"It had crossed my mind that I was already Facebook friends with Peter but assumed he had deleted me and re-added me so didn't think much of it.
"The conversation started normal enough - it's not unusual for people to pitch story ideas to me through Facebook so, when he asked if I had heard the good news, I kept the conversation going."
Arthur-Worsop then received messages telling her she had won thousands of dollars and they could help her get in touch with the company.
"The moment the account mentioned winning thousands of dollars and seeing my name on the 'winning list' I realised it was a scam and clicked through to the profile to find it was fake," she said.
"I didn't care so much that scammers tried to target me - I knew as soon as money was mentioned that it was a scam - but thinking of those who are not as computer and social media-literate and could quite easily be caught out by a scam like this, particularly when the profile of a well known and trusted local figure is being used, made me quite angry."
She said she had "some choice words for the scammer" before they blocked her.
The scam comes at the same time Rotorua-born singer Lizzie Marvelly took to Instagram to tell her followers a copy-cat account had been set up pretending to be her.
"Would be great if you could help me to report it whānau. They're pretending to be me and apparently asking people for money via private message for charitable causes," her post said.
"Pretty damn low."