In a shocking revelation, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a former global diversity executive at Facebook, has pleaded guilty to embezzling over $4 million from the social media giant.
This defendant abused a position of a trust as a global diversity executive for Facebook to defraud the company of millions of dollars, ignoring the insidious consequences of undermining the importance of her DEI mission. Motivated by greed, she used her time to orchestrate an elaborate criminal scheme in which fraudulent vendors paid her kickbacks in cash. She even involved relatives, friends, and other associates in her crimes, all to fund a lavish lifestyle through fraud rather than hard and honest work.
Barbara Furlow-Smiles was the global head of diversity strategy and engagement at Facebook. Her responsibilities included developing and executing DEI initiatives, operations, and engagement programs.
From January 2017 to September 2021, Furlow-Smiles used her position at Facebook to defraud the company and accumulate millions of dollars for personal gain. She employed two primary methods.
She made payments to friends, relatives, and associates for goods and services that were never provided while submitting false expense reports. Once the payments were received, the recipients would kick back a portion of the funds to Furlow-Smiles, often in cash or through transfers to accounts held by her husband or others.
She also had Facebook hire vendors owned and operated by her friends and associates. Once the contracts were approved, she inflated the invoices, ensuring the excess funds were returned to her as kickbacks. This allowed her to benefit financially from both sides of the transaction.
Furlow-Smiles recruited numerous individuals, including friends, relatives, former interns, nannies, babysitters, a hairstylist, and even her university tutor, to participate in her embezzlement scheme. These individuals were unaware that the funds they received were coming from Facebook. Once they received payments, they would return most of the money to Furlow-Smiles through various means, including cash wrapped in T-shirts and other items.
By submitting false expense reports and approving fake and inflated invoices, she diverted over $4 million from Facebook. The stolen funds were then used to support Furlow-Smiles’ luxurious lifestyle, spanning from California to Georgia.
The embezzlement scheme orchestrated did not go unnoticed. With Meta’s cooperation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation, leading to her arrest and subsequent guilty plea. U.S. Furlow-Smiles is scheduled to be sentenced on March 19, 2024, and will face significant legal repercussions for her crimes.
The case of Barbara Furlow-Smiles further highlights the fraudulent nature of DEI programs.