A man and a woman tried to “present themselves to be owners” of a house, so they could sell it for over £200,000, a court heard.

Garfield Prince and Isla Halls are charged with dishonestly making a false representation that they were the joint owners of the terraced property in Reading.

They are also both accused of having false Portuguese identity documents - including a driving licence and passports - for use of or in connection with the alleged fraud.

Emily Hodge, prosecuting, told Reading magistrates the defendants “purported to be owners” of a property in Surrey Road in the town between June 1, 2022, and July 31, 2022.

“The real owners of that property own it outright and rent it to tenants. They had no intention of selling the property.

“The defendants went to great lengths to present themselves to be owners of that property in order to then go on to sell it.

“It is believed the defendants actions exposed the owners of the property and the company trying to sell the house to a potential loss of £254,000.”

Ms Hodge said the defendants were accused of having used a “significant degree of planning” to carry out the alleged fraud and that the offences carried a minimum sentence of five years.

Halls, 43, of Greenwich in London, appeared in court, where she confirmed her name, date of birth, and address.

She was charged with the fraud and with having a false Portuguese passport in the name of Ikuko Derry on July 31, 2022, in Romford, Essex, for use in the course of or in connection with fraud.

Lead magistrate Penny Wood told Halls that, due to the “high level of loss” in the case, her case would need to be sent to the crown court for trial.

Halls was given unconditional bail ahead of a plea and trial preparation hearing at Reading Crown Court on March 19.

Prince, 60, of Durham Road, Newham in London, is also charged with the fraud and having a false Portuguese passport and driving license in the name of Simon Derry, for use in the course of or in connection with fraud.

He did not attend court for the first hearing in his case on Wednesday, February 14 . Magistrates issued a warrant for his arrest.