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Former Facebook Diversity Manager Sentenced To Federal Prison Over $5 Million Fraud

Former Facebook Diversity Manager Sentenced To Federal Prison Over $5 Million Fraud

Diversity

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, photo: LinkedIn

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, the former diversity program manager at  Facebook and Nike, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for orchestrating a sophisticated fraud scheme that embezzled over $5 million from the two corporate giants. Furlow-Smiles has also been ordered to repay the substantial sum.

The Justice Department disclosed that Furlow-Smiles, aged 38, devised sham business dealings, fabricated invoices, and concocted events, including a fictitious Juneteenth celebration, to siphon funds for her personal enrichment, The New York Post reported.

“Ms. Furlow-Smiles shamelessly exploited her position of authority within Facebook’s DEI program to pilfer millions, leveraging a scheme riddled with fraudulent vendors, falsified documents, and illicit kickbacks,” remarked U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan in a press release.

Following her termination from Facebook, Furlow-Smiles still continued her fraudulent activities at Nike, where she pocketed an additional six-figure sum from their diversity initiatives.

Having pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December, Furlow-Smiles admitted to swindling more than $4.9 million from Facebook before perpetrating a similar scheme at Nike. The ill-gotten gains were used to fuel a lavish lifestyle spanning California, Georgia, and Oregon.

Furlow-Smiles enlisted various individuals, including former interns, a university tutor, a hairstylist, and caregivers, to divert kickbacks her way. Many of these associates were reportedly unaware that the funds originated from Facebook.

The modus operandi involved Furlow-Smiles linking her credit cards to PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts, through which she paid purported vendors for non-existent goods and services. Subsequently, these individuals would remit the majority of the received funds back to Furlow-Smiles, often in cash or through bank transfers.

The sentencing, handed down by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg, includes a restitution order of $4,981,783.58 to Facebook and $121,054.50 to Nike, totaling $5,102,838.08.

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, photo: LinkedIn