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Former Facebook diversity executive pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $4 million from the company

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Barbara Furlow-Smiles used the authority conferred by her position to orchestrate a criminal scheme and defraud the company.


(Flickr -Esther Vargas)

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The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced that Barbara Furlow-Smiles, Facebook's former diversity executive, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $4 million from the company through an elaborate fraudulent bribery scheme.

According to the statement, the former Facebook employee led diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, had access to company credit cards, and had the authority to submit purchase requests and approve supplier invoices.

Furlow-Smiles used all the power the position gave her to defraud the company of millions of dollars.

"Motivated by greed, she used her time to orchestrate an elaborate criminal scheme in which fraudulent vendors paid her kickbacks in cash. She even involved relatives, friends, and other associates in her crimes, all to fund a lavish lifestyle through fraud rather than hard and honest work," reported U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.

Furlow-Smiles' modus operandi involved bringing in suppliers who paid her kickbacks and inflating invoices for services and goods to keep some of the money.

The former executive also connected Facebook corporate credit cards to various accounts on platforms such as Venmo, PayPal and CashApp to pay friends, family and other associates for services and goods that the company never received.

"Furlow-Smiles submitted fraudulent expense reports, falsely claiming that her associates or their businesses performed work on programs and events for Facebook, such as providing swag or marketing services when, in fact, they had not done so," the statement said, highlighting that after the associates received payments, they returned most of the money to Furlow-Smiles.

Although the former executive pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from Facebook, the sentencing hearing has yet to take place, which is scheduled for March 19, 2024. Judge Steven D. Grimberg will preside over the case.

The statement also reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate the case, and the federal prosecutors in charge are Stephen H. McClain and Bernita B. Malloy.