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Ex-Facebook Diversity Manager Sentenced To 5 Years For Fraud


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Former Facebook and Nike diversity manager Barbara Furlow-Smiles has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison for embezzling over $5 million from both companies, funds that were intended for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Furlow-Smiles, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud, utilized fraudulent vendors, fake invoices, and cash kickbacks to steal over $4.9 million from Facebook and an additional substantial sum from Nike.

Prosecutors revealed that Furlow-Smiles, 38, used the stolen funds to finance a luxurious lifestyle across multiple states. Despite being terminated from Facebook, she continued her fraudulent activities while employed at Nike as a senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prosecutors highlighted her manipulation of close associates, including former interns, who considered her a mentor.

The sentencing memo detailed Furlow-Smiles’ elaborate scheme, which involved linking PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts to her Facebook credit cards and then funneling money to friends, relatives, and others for fictitious goods and services. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, incurred significant losses in addition to the stolen funds, including legal expenses associated with uncovering the fraud.

Nike emphasized Furlow-Smiles’ breach of trust and the devastating impact of her actions on employees who worked closely with her. Despite being entrusted with leadership roles and the company’s values, she showed a complete lack of accountability and remorse.

Furlow-Smiles, who resides in Marietta with her family, including an eight-year-old daughter, has been ordered to pay restitution to both Facebook and Nike. Her attorney described her as a good person and mother, highlighting the complexity of her character beyond the charges she faced.

Meta declined to comment on the matter, while Nike did not respond to immediate requests for comment. Furlow-Smiles is scheduled to report to prison by July 22, concluding a case that underscores the importance of ethical conduct and accountability in corporate settings.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of unethical behavior in high-stakes corporate environments. As companies like Facebook and Nike continue to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, the Furlow-Smiles case highlights the critical need for robust oversight and internal controls to prevent similar fraudulent activities in the future.

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