(RepublicanDaily.org) – A former official of Facebook pleaded guilty to charges that she embezzled millions from the social media company.
Barbara Furlow-Smiles, who served as Facebook’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) manager from 2017 to 2021, admitted to prosecutors that she managed to steal as much as $4 million through an elaborate kickback scheme. During her time in the company, she was responsible for developing and executing various DEI programs and initiatives.
Prosecutors said that Furlow-Smiles “knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud” the company through the use of “materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and by omission of material facts,” enriching herself in the process.
According to prosecutors, Furlow-Smiles linked payment apps to her company-issued credit card and forked out payments to fake vendors. She then used the proceeds “to fund a lavish lifestyle” in Georgia and California, court documents read. She would issue payments to vendors – who turned out to be family and friends – supposedly for services rendered, listing them as official expenditures in expense reports she submitted to the company.
Most of the people she involved, however, were unaware that they were being used in her scheme, prosecutors said. They would return most of the money in cash to Furlow-Smiles, through mail or sometimes wrapped in articles of clothing. She involved relatives, former interns, babysitters and nannies, a hair stylist, and her university tutor, prosecutors said.
US Attorney Ryan Buchanan said that Furlow-Smiles undermined the significance of her position as DEI manager and instead fed her greed, “ignoring the insidious consequences” of her actions.
In a statement issued to the media, Facebook – whose corporate entity is now called Meta – said that the company will fully cooperate with authorities on the issue.
Furlow-Smiles pled guilty to embezzlement charges at a federal court in Atlanta, Georgia. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 19 next year. She is currently free on a $5,000 bond.
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