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Metamorphosis of Greed: Facebook’s Diversity Chief Turns Millions in “Equity” into Personal “Kickbacks”

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Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that Facebook’s former diversity manager pleaded guilty to stealing over $4 million through fake business transactions in exchange for kickbacks used to fund her luxurious lifestyle.

The Justice Department stated that Barbara Furlow Smiles, 38 served as the chief strategist and global head of employee resources groups at Facebook while orchestrating the scheme. She was the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs at Facebook from January 2017 to September 2021. She was responsible for developing and implementing DEI programs, operations, and engagement.

Keri Farley said that Furlow-Smiles had used deception and lies to defraud vendors and Facebook staff. The FBI is working hard to ensure that greed like this does not pay off and that those who commit fraud will be held accountable.

Furlow-Smiles committed fraud by linking PayPal accounts, Venmo accounts, and Cash App to credit cards that she received from Facebook. She then used these accounts to pay for goods and services to friends, relatives, and former interns of a previous job. This included nannies and babysitters as well as a hairstylist.

It was not clear if any of her associates had been charged with fraud.

Prosecutors said that after these people received their payments, they returned a percentage to Furlow Smiles. Prosecutors allege that the kickbacks were made in cash or through transfers into accounts under various names including Furlow-Smiles’ husband.

The FBI reported that some of the kickbacks paid were in cash, sometimes in the form of T-shirts or other items. Authorities said that she also hired vendors who were owned by friends or associates and paid kickbacks.

Furlow-Smiles committed fraud by linking PayPal accounts, Venmo accounts, and Cash App to credit cards that she received from Facebook. She then used these accounts to pay for goods and services to friends, relatives, and former interns of a previous job. This included nannies and babysitters as well as a hairstylist.

It was not clear if any of her associates had been charged with fraud.

Prosecutors said that after these people received their payments, they returned a percentage to Furlow Smiles. Prosecutors allege that the kickbacks were made in cash or through transfers into accounts under various names including Furlow-Smiles’ husband.

The FBI reported that some of the kickbacks paid were in cash, sometimes in the form of T-shirts or other items. Authorities said that she also hired vendors who were owned by friends or associates and paid kickbacks.

Furlow-Smiles allegedly used the illegal funds to finance a luxurious lifestyle in California and Georgia.

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