Technology

Former Facebook Diversity Chief Confesses to Embezzling $4 Million from the Company

“Ex-Facebook DEI Head Pleads Guilty to $4 Million Embezzlement Scheme”
A former top executive overseeing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at Facebook, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, has admitted to orchestrating a large-scale embezzlement scheme, revealed federal prosecutors this week.
Furlow-Smiles, who led the DEI initiatives at Facebook (now known as Meta) between 2017 and 2021, reportedly diverted over $4 million from the company. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Georgia disclosed that she utilized payment apps linked to her Facebook credit card, funneling funds to fictitious vendors. Court documents cited by Business Insider highlighted her deliberate scheme to defraud Facebook through false expenses and fraudulent vendor transactions.
The process involved submitting counterfeit expense reports, and once approved, Furlow-Smiles allegedly arranged for the vendors to transfer money back to her, often in cash or through transfers to her husband’s account. Federal prosecutors mentioned that these kickbacks were sometimes concealed within items like T-shirts or sent via mail.
A Meta spokesperson conveyed cooperation with law enforcement regarding the case but refrained from further comment. Furlow-Smiles’ legal representatives did not respond to inquiries.
Prosecutors outlined that Furlow-Smiles exploited her position to introduce vendors affiliated with her acquaintances and friends. Once these vendors were incorporated into Facebook’s system, she inflated expense reports to generate additional illicit funds from kickbacks.
According to court records, the falsified reports claimed these associates provided services for various Facebook programs and events, which were untrue. Among those involved in her fraudulent scheme were relatives, friends, former interns, childcare providers, a stylist, and even her college tutor.
The funds obtained through this deceitful operation were used for personal expenses, including $10,000 spent on artist commissions and over $18,000 for preschool fees.
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan criticized Furlow-Smiles’ actions, emphasizing her betrayal of trust in her role as a global diversity executive. He highlighted her pursuit of a lavish lifestyle through fraudulent means, undermining the essence of her DEI mission at Facebook.
Scheduled for sentencing in March 2024, Furlow-Smiles faces consequences for her role in the elaborate embezzlement scheme, tarnishing her former position and impacting the company she once served.

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