(WatchDogReport.org) – A former diversity program leader at Facebook, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, admitted to swindling over $4 million from the tech giant by orchestrating a complex kickback scam. Furlow-Smiles, responsible for driving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives at Facebook, confessed to manipulating company funds for personal gain between January 2016 and September 2021.
Her role as the global head of employee resource groups and diversity engagement allowed her to exploit her position, leading a lavish lifestyle across multiple states. Furlow-Smiles misused funds by fabricating business deals and receiving kickbacks, channeling company money to friends and relatives she falsely portrayed as vendors providing fictitious goods and services to Facebook.
After obtaining payments from Facebook, her associates would redirect most of the money back to Furlow-Smiles, either in cash or by transferring it to accounts in her or her husband’s name.
The scheme roped in several individuals, including former interns, a university tutor, a hairstylist, babysitters, and nannies, all implicated in funneling kickbacks to Furlow-Smiles. It remains uncertain whether these associates will face legal consequences related to the fraud.
To evade detection, she submitted deceitful expense reports, presenting these individuals as legitimate vendors at Facebook events. The deceit extended to payments for services and products never rendered to the company, such as specialized portraits and preschool services.
US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan remarked, “Motivated by greed, she orchestrated an elaborate criminal scheme, having fraudulent vendors pay her kickbacks in cash. She engaged relatives, friends, and associates in her crimes to finance an opulent lifestyle through deceit, disregarding honest work.”
In response, Meta, Mark Zuckerberg’s company, stated, “We’re collaborating with law enforcement on this case involving the former program manager and will continue to do so.”
Furlow-Smiles, 38, who served as the Global Head of Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Engagement at Facebook, engaged in fraudulent activities, deceiving and cheating the company out of millions of dollars during her tenure. Her misuse of Facebook’s trust and resources for personal gain highlights the consequences of abusing a position of influence.
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