By Joshua Demarest
Carol Michaelson, who was formerly a licensed real estate agent working in the Dawsonville area, has pleaded guilty to “defrauding her clients by faking property sales, forging contracts and deeds, and then pocketing her victims’ money” to the tune of $1 million, according to United States Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia.
“This defendant stole her clients’ hard-earned money by pretending to purchase properties for them, while pocketing their funds for her own personal use,” said Pak. “She then tried to cover her tracks with fake sales agreements and forged deeds. Michaelson is a repeat offender, having previously lost her real estate license for defrauding clients.”
In 2012, Michaelson was arrested for defrauding clients out of $15,000. In 2014, she plead guilty to the charges. In 2015, while she was serving probation for her the 2012 case, she was arrested for another charge of fraud — this time for bad checks written to a dry cleaner.
In this case, Michaelson is accused of stealing more than $1 million from multiple clients. In some instances, she falsely listed properties as being for sale by owner, working with clients to purchase the property, forging emails from closing lawyers, county officials and banks, all while the actual property owners were unaware of the actions being taken.
In other instances, Michaelson falsely reported to clients that she had bought rental properties for would-be investors, going as far as creating false tenant profiles and sending fake rent checks to the property owners to convince them that everything was proceeding according to plan.
These crimes extended past 2014, when Michaelson lost her real estate license due to her guilty plea in the 2012 case.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.
“This case demonstrates the commitment the Secret Service and our law enforcement partners have in aggressively pursuing those who defraud innocent victims,” said Steven R. Baisel, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. “This guilty plea should serve as a reminder to other like-minded individuals that we will protect our economic system and arrest criminals who violate public trust for personal gain.”
“We are grateful to all the involved criminal justice agencies who worked so diligently to help close these cases. It is our continued desire that justice will be served in hopes of deterring these types of crimes,” said Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson.