A former “diversity executive” at Facebook pled guilty to stealing over $4 million from the company through a fraudulent kickback scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
Barbara Furlow-Smiles, who served as Facebook’s Lead Strategist and Global Head of Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Engagement, used Facebook credit cards to steal over $4 million from the company, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said in a statement.
“Furlow-Smiles used lies and deceit to defraud both vendors and Facebook employees,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said, per the statement.
Furlow-Smiles hooked up Facebook corporate credit cards to various Venmo, PayPal and CashApp accounts and used them to pay for services and goods the company never received, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office.
Some of these services included $10,000 for specialty portraits and $18,000 for preschool tuition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s statement said. (RELATED: University Of Wisconsin System Rejects Proposal To Put Diversity Hiring Practices On Ice)
Furlow-Smiles would often pay for these services with Facebook’s credit cards and then receive kickbacks in cash from vendors controlled by friends and connections, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s statement.
“This defendant abused a position of 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,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said, the statement read. “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.”
The 38-year-old diversity chief’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 19, 2024, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s statement.