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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Former Facebook Diversity Manager Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $4 Million From Facebook Kickbacks

Barbara Furlow-Smiles. Photo/LinkedIn

The former diversity program manager of Facebook, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, pleaded guilty to embezzling over $4 million in assets from the company in a kickback scheme. According to Fox Business, "Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, served as the lead strategist, global head of employee resource groups and diversity engagement at the social media giant while she orchestrated the scheme, the Justice Department said. From January 2017 through September 2021, she led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs at Facebook and was responsible for developing and executing DEI initiatives, operations, and engagement programs."

She reportedly committed the fraud by linking PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts to credit cards given to her by Facebook and used those accounts to pay friends, relatives, former interns at a prior job, nannies, babysitters, a hairstylist, and others for goods and services that were never provided to the company, a federal complaint states, according to Fox Business. Furlow-Smiles was very crafty and resourceful in her means to obtain the funds; Fox Business said, "After those people received the payments, they kicked back a percentage of the funds to Furlow-Smiles, prosecutors said. 

The kickbacks were paid in cash and through transfers to accounts in various names, including the husband of Furlow-Smiles, prosecutors allege. The FBI said some of the kickbacks were allegedly paid in cash, sometimes wrapped in T-shirts and other items. She also had Facebook hire vendors that were owned and operated by friends and associates who also paid kickbacks, authorities said." She reportedly "also misled Facebook into paying money to entities who didn't provide kickbacks, including nearly $10,000 to an artist who created specialty portraits and more than $18,000 to a preschool, the complaint said, according to Fox Business." 

Furlow-Smiles is a Spelman College and Baruch College graduate. She also worked for Nike in several capacities, even senior leadership. She will reportedly be sentenced on March 19, 2024.

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