Employers have been warned to be vigilant after two women appeared in court accused of falsifying their employment histories to get jobs - one of whom allegedly proceeded to rip off $84,000 from her new workplace.

Hawke's Bay school principal Maria Gladys Josephine Haronga Lewis, 57, appeared in Hastings District Court on Friday, where she admitted fabricating a reference.

She was convicted and discharged after pleading guilty to a charge of using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

Meanwhile in Auckland, 37-year-old Lisa Danielle Kitto, of Henderson, has been charged with lying about her work history and stealing $84,000 from her workplace.

She appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday to face 22 fraud charges and two charges of falsifying her curriculum vitae to obtain pecuniary advantage.

She did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody to May 30.

Kitto was employed as an office administrator at Image Group, where she is alleged to have recorded bogus transactions as payments to company suppliers. Image Group spoke to two of Kitto's referees and went through a thorough interview process, said sales manager Rebecca Croft.

The company was a small- to medium family-owned business, which did not have a human resources department.

"They were glowing references and exactly what I wanted to hear," said Croft. "She was very convincing in the interview and said she wasn't afraid to be thrown in the deep end and had knowledge of our accounting system."

Employers and Manufacturers Association employment services manager David Lowe said small businesses did not have budgets for HR departments or recruitment agents.

"New Zealanders are very trusting and we are an honest society. We don't go around thinking the worst of people," he said.

The 90-day trial period helped reduce problems but employers needed to complete more thorough checks.

"It's always important to check references but also dates of employment and to put some thought into the people put forward as referees," he said. "What is their relationship and how long had they been working with the candidate?"

High-profile cases of CV doctoring highlight how easy it is to embellish qualifications.

* 2010: Chief defence scientist Stephen Wilce said he had been a member of the British Olympic bobsleigh team; a helicopter pilot who served with the Duke of York; and an ex-Marine.

* 2008: Former Immigration Service head Mary Anne Thompson falsely claimed she had a doctorate from the London School of Economics. She was sentenced to 100 hours' community work and fined $10,000.

* 2002: Maori Television chief executive John Davy was sentenced to eight months in jail for falsifying his CV. He claimed to be a graduate of "Denver State University" - although no institution existed. No background check was carried out.