Portland Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Fraud Schemes Targeting Family and Friends
PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland man was sentenced to federal prison today for perpetrating two separate fraud schemes targeting his family and friends, resulting in losses exceeding $650,000, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.
Joseph D. Galvan, 46, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and 3 years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $658,060.39 in restitution.
According to court documents, between January 2018 and August 2020, Galvan devised a scheme to defraud his ex-wife’s family and friends, most of whom had emigrated to the U.S. from Romania or were of Romanian descent. Galvan posed as a savvy, high-rolling investment trader and promised his victims he would invest their money and help them achieve financial security, retire early, and live a good life. He also promised to teach his victims, many of whom were elderly and spoke English as a second language, how to successfully navigate the stock market.
Once victims transferred their funds into an account controlled by Galvan, he failed to open investment accounts on their behalf as promised. Galvan used an app called StockMaster to create false investment profile accounts for each victim and would periodically send them phony screen shots of their profiles. Galvan subsequently spent victims’ money on various personal expenses including rent, car payments, travel, dining, food, guns, and voluntary cosmetic procedures. Total losses incurred by these victims exceeded $518,000, which, for many, constituted their entire life savings.
During this same time, Galvan engaged in a separate scheme targeting his own family and friends. In July 2019, he told a victim he had purchased a house in Lake Oswego, Oregon for $900,000, despite the home being worth approximately $2 million. He further told the victim that he sued the owners of the house after they refused to leave. According to Galvan, a court judgment allegedly required the owners to pay him a large settlement that was placed into an escrow account. Galvan falsely claimed the settlement had grown in escrow to $1 million, but that the court would not release the funds until certain conditions with Galvan’s bank account were met.
Galvan convinced the victim to pay for various fees and costs associated with the house purchase while he awaited the settlement funds. Galvan told the victim he would pay him $250,000 if the victim agreed to provide these funds. Galvan also promised to pay the victim an additional $100,000 every time the victim provided more funds toward house purchase expenses. Galvan encouraged the victim to convey a similar offer to several of the victim’s relatives and a family friend. Based on Galvan’s false promises, the victim and several others paid him more than $130,000. In reality, Galvan had never purchased a home in Lake Oswego and there were no settlement funds in escrow.
On August 19, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a seventeen-count indictment charging Galvan with wire fraud and money laundering for the scheme perpetrated on his ex-wife’s family and friends. For the scheme targeting his own family and friends, on November 19, 2020, Galvan was charged by criminal information with wire fraud. On November 23, 2020, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering to resolve both cases.
This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Claire M. Fay, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.