Ex-Facebook And Nike DEI Manager Sentenced To Federal Prison For Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

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Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a former diversity program manager who admitted to orchestrating kickback schemes at Facebook and Nike, has been sentenced to federal prison for her multi-million dollar fraud.

The 38-year-old confessed to stealing $5 million through her illicit operations at the two companies, Fox Business reports. “Furlow-Smiles shamelessly violated her position of trust as a DEI executive at Facebook to steal millions from the company utilizing a scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fake invoices, and cash kickbacks,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement.

From January 2017 until her September 2021 ousting, Furlow-Smiles spearheaded DEI programs at Facebook. Her responsibilities encompassed crafting and implementing DEI initiatives, operations, and engagement endeavors. Prosecutors contend she perpetrated fraud by covertly diverting company funds to her personal PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts, which she employed to remunerate acquaintances, family members, former interns, childcare providers, a stylist, and others for services never rendered to Facebook.

After her Facebook dismissal, Furlow-Smiles assumed a DEI senior director’s position at Nike from November 2021 through February 2023, where she replicated her kickback strategy against her new corporate victim. “She stole another six-figure sum from their diversity program,” Buchanan said. “Her prison sentence reflects the consequences of…orchestrating an intricate scheme to defraud two…employers for personal profit.”

Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office, denounced Furlow-Smiles’ rapacious greed, pronouncing, “She not only threw away a lucrative career but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced Furlow-Smiles has been ordered to serve five years and three months behind bars. Additionally, she must pay restitution of $4,981,783.58 to Meta-owned Facebook and $121,054.50 to Nike. Through these accounts, she paid friends, relatives, former interns, nannies, babysitters, a hairstylist, and others for goods and services never provided to Facebook.

RELATED CONTENT: Former Facebook Diversity Executive Admits Stealing Over $4M From Company

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