Facebook Diversity Manager Jailed for $5M Scam

(LibertySociety.com) – Barbara Furlow-Smiles took diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to the extreme when she stole millions of dollars from Facebook and over $100,000 from Nike between 2017 and 2023.

Last December, she pleaded guilty after being charged with wire fraud. The 38-year-old used “fraudulent vendors, fake invoices, and cash kickbacks” in a scheme to steal money from Facebook while working as a lead strategist and diversity manager. She wasted no time executing her scheme, as prosecutors said she began her criminal activity just months after she was hired at Facebook. She linked several personal payment platforms to company credit cards and sent payments to friends, and family, as well as phony retail purchases that ultimately ended up back in her accounts.

Furlow-Smiles started working as a senior director for Nike’s DEI department in November 2021 after she was fired from Facebook midway through the year. She immediately began the same type of scheme. Prosecutors said that Furlow-Smiles used the money to purchase luxury items while living in three different states. While working for Nike, Furlow-Smiles was chosen to plan a Juneteenth celebration in New York. She sent payments to several alleged associates with a company credit card that was linked to her personal payment platforms. She then submitted a phony expense report that reflected the payments being made for the event. In reality, the money was kicked back to her personal accounts.

On May 13, she was sentenced to five years in prison. The sentencing judge also ordered her to pay $4.98 million in restitution to Facebook, and an additional $121,000 to Nike. Both companies said they were disappointed in Furlow-Smiles. Nike pointed out that she exuded a “complete lack of accountability and remorse.” Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said that Furlow-Smiles’ criminal actions went beyond monetary losses, noting that her behavior negatively affected her coworkers. Nike also made a similar statement. After she gets out of prison, Furlow-Smiles will be placed on supervised release for three years.

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