Saturday 18 May 2024

‘Excessive Greed’: Former Facebook DEI Manager Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $5 Million

 A former DEI manager for Facebook and Nike was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing over 5 million dollars from those two companies. 

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, was convicted of orchestrating a scheme where she used fraudulent vendors, fictitious paperwork, and cash kickbacks to steal $4.9 million from Facebook and over $120,000 from Nike. Furlow-Smiles was ordered by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg to pay restitution for the funds she stole and given five years in prison with three years of supervised release. 

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “After being terminated from Facebook, she brazenly continued the fraud as a DEI leader at Nike, where she stole another six-figure sum from their diversity program.”

The DOJ said that she used the stolen money to fund a “luxury lifestyle” in California, Georgia, and Oregon.

Furlow-Smiles ran diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at Facebook from January 2017 until September 2021. Using her access to company credit cards and payment platforms, she paid friends, relatives, and other associates for goods and services, according to the Justice Department. 

The DOJ said that Furlow-Smiles was aided in the scheme by nannies and babysitters, a hair stylist, and her university tutor.

She later went to work for Nike from November 2021 to February 2023 after she was fired from Facebook. At Nike, Furlow-Smiles was the company’s senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, where she was tasked with organizing DEI-related events. 


While at Nike, she linked her company card to her personal PayPal and Venmo accounts and made up fake expenses for a Juneteenth event to submit fraudulent payment claims. 

“After she was fired, she carelessly continued her fraudulent schemes at Nike, thinking she was untouchable. As a result, she not only threw away a lucrative career, but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed,” said FBI agent Keri Farley.

The sentencing comes as DEI programs have come under scrutiny at universities and corporations across the country.

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