‘Excessive Greed’: Former DEI Manager At Facebook Sentenced For $5 Million Fraud

(REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

John Oyewale Contributor
Font Size:

A former Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) manager at Facebook and Nike will serve 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release as part of her sentencing for wire fraud of over $5 million, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Thirty-eight-year-old Barbara Furlow-Smiles of Marietta, Georgia, reportedly executed an “elaborate scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fictitious paperwork, and cash kickbacks.” Furlow-Smiles must now also “pay restitution in the amount of $4,981,783.58 to Facebook and $121,054.50 to Nike, for a total of $5,102,838.08,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia said in a press release.

Furlow-Smiles’ DEI position at Facebook — now Meta — from January 2017 to September 2021 allowed her access to company credit cards. She then linked them to her PayPal, Venmo and CashApp accounts to pay friends, relatives and other associates for goods and services that Facebook never received, prosecutors alleged, according to the press release.

She drafted fraudulent expense reports and invoices for the nonexistent goods and services and received kickbacks from the individuals, often in cash, when Facebook paid, prosecutors said. She reportedly recruited many individuals, including “friends, relatives, former interns from a prior job, nannies and babysitters, a hair stylist, and her university tutor” into her scheme.

Furlow-Smiles perpetrated similar schemes at Nike as a senior DEI director from November to February 2023 upon her firing from Facebook, according to prosecutors. Being in charge of a Nike-sponsored Juneteenth event in New York, Furlow-Smiles “circumvented the vendor process” by linking her Nike credit card to her PayPal and Venmo accounts. She then paid associates with those accounts, fraudulently claimed they were for the event, and received kickbacks, prosecutors said. (RELATED: Former Facebook Diversity Manager Admits To Embezzling Over $4,000,000 From Company)

“In total, Furlow-Smiles stole more than $4.9 million from Facebook and over $120,000 from Nike based on fictitious charges and fraudulent invoices,” the press release reads in part. “She used the money to fund a luxury lifestyle in California, Georgia, and Oregon.”

She was convicted Dec. 11, 2023 after pleading guilty.

Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Atlanta, said Furlow-Smiles was “thinking she was untouchable. As a result, she not only threw away a lucrative career, but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed.”