A local real estate agent is facing felony charges in connection with what investigators are calling a fraudulent sales transaction.
Carol Michaelson, 49, of Dawsonville turned herself into authorities Oct. 10. She was released a short time later.
According to arrest warrants, Michaelson is charged with making false statement to officers, forging the signature of a property owner on a binding real estate contract and converting funds held in escrow for a real estate contract for her personal use.
Michaelson's attorney, Rafe Banks, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
According to Dawson County Sheriff's Lt. Ray Goodie, Michaelson has cooperated with the investigation and the $15,000 has since been returned to the buyer.
"It was returned after the investigation began," he said.
The case dates to earlier this year, after investigators received reports from a property owner on Hwy. 52 near Amicalola Falls, Goodie said.
"The property owner at one time had entertained a proposal to sell his property to a neighbor, but the offer was too low, so there was no deal," he said.
"We got involved because one day the neighbor saw the property owner out on the land and offered to let him pay a monthly rent to stay on the property once the sale went through."
When the man informed the neighbor the land was not for sale, the neighbor told him he had signed a contract and paid $15,000 toward the sale.
"So they called the sheriff's office," Goodie said. "We have e-mail confirmation that [Michaelson] talked about selling this property to the buyer for about the last year."
Michaelson is accused of forging the property owner's signature on a short sale real estate contract and using money placed in escrow by the potential buyer for personal purchases.
"The established escrow account is meant only for one reason," Goodie said. "The money goes in and it's supposed to stay there until the account closes or the contract falls through, at which case it would be given back to the buyer who provided the escrow money.
"In this account, there is documentation that proves as soon as the money goes in, she uses it for personal use, such as going tanning and getting her nails done."