Ex-diversity boss at Facebook, Nike who orchestrated fake events to steal $5M gets five years, must pay back hefty sum

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The ex-diversity programme head for Facebook and Nike who stole much than $5 cardinal from nan mega companies to money her “luxury lifestyle” was sentenced Monday to 5 years down bars — and ordered to salary backmost nan hefty sum.

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, group up clone business deals, invoices and events — including a Juneteenth ceremony — to statement her ain pockets, nan Justice Department said.

“Furlow-Smiles shamelessly violated her position of spot arsenic a DEI executive astatine Facebook to bargain millions from nan institution utilizing a strategy involving fraudulent vendors, clone invoices, and rate kickbacks,” said US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said successful a statement.

Barbara Furlow-Smiles bilked much than $5 cardinal from Facebook and Nike during her clip arsenic a DEI manager. Amazon

“After being terminated from Facebook, she brazenly continued nan fraud arsenic a DEI leader astatine Nike, wherever she stole different six-figure sum from their diverseness program.”

Furlow-Smiles pleaded blameworthy successful December to nan ligament fraud scheme, which saw her return more than $4.9 cardinal from Facebook earlier bilking different six-figure sum from Nike “to money a luxury manner successful California, Georgia, and Oregon,” nan DOJ said.

The societal media institution claimed her “crimes besides resulted successful anguish amongst those labor that worked intimately pinch her,” while Nike slammed her “complete deficiency of accountability aliases remorse was incredibly disappointing,” according to sentencing memos obtained by CNBC.

From astir January 2017 to September 2021, nan Georgia autochthonal “led diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs astatine Facebook and was responsible for processing and executing DEI initiatives, operations, and engagement programs,” prosecutors said.

Furlow-Smiles created counterfeit invoices to screen her tracks. Getty Images

She utilized her entree to institution in installments cards and her powerfulness to o.k. invoices for authorized vendors to salary galore individuals,” including her friends and relatives, “for equipment and services that successful truth were ne'er provided to Facebook.”

Those individuals — which allegedly included her erstwhile interns, her “university tutor,” a hairsbreadth stylist, babysitters and nannies — would later chimney kickbacks to Furlow-Smiles.

The associates – astir of whom were reportedly unaware that nan costs were coming from Facebook – would return nan money to Furlow-Smiles successful rate aliases via relationship transfer. The feds noted that nan rate was sometimes delivered to Furlow-Smiles wrapped up successful T-shirts aliases different items.

She besides misled Facebook into sending money to entities that did not supply kickbacks, including astir $10,000 to an creator who created specialty portraits and much than $18,000 to an unnamed preschool.

Furlow-Smiles recruited her erstwhile interns, her “university tutor,” a hairsbreadth stylist, babysitters and nannies for nan scheme. LinkedIn / Barbara Furlow-Smiles

To screen her tracks, nan disgraced DEI serviceman submitted clone disbursal reports claiming her associates had performed activity for Facebook, specified arsenic providing swag aliases trading services.

When she was fired from Facebook, Furlow-Smiles “carelessly continued her fraudulent schemes astatine Nike, reasoning she was untouchable,” Keri Farley, Special Agent successful Charge of FBI Atlanta, said.

“As a result, she not only threw distant a lucrative career, but will service clip down bars for her excessive greed.”

As nan elder head of DEI astatine nan diversion apparel company, Furlow-Smiles was responsible for supporting DEI initiatives, processing strategies, and hosting DEI events — and had a superior work to shape a Juneteenth arena successful New York.

Furlow-Smiles utilized nan stolen costs “to money a luxury manner successful California, Georgia, and Oregon,” nan DOJ said. Meta

For nan celebration, Furlow-Smiles followed nan aforesaid process she had astatine Facebook: she paid her associates pinch her Nike firm paper that she linked to her PayPal and Venmo accounts successful speech for kickbacks earlier filing a counterfeit disbursal study “falsely claimed that nan payments were related to nan Juneteenth event.”

In total, Furlow-Smiles bilked much than $.49 cardinal from Facebook and complete $120,000 from Nike — each of which a judge ordered that she salary backmost to nan companies.

She was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months successful prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Neither Facebook nor Nike responded to requests for comment.


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