Disgraced Facebook DEI chief pleads guilty in stealing millions: US DOJ

Prosecutors claim that Furlow-Smiles financed a lavish lifestyle in both California and Georgia using the proceeds from her illegal activities.

Disgraced Facebook DEI chief pleads guilty in stealing millions: US DOJ
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According to a federal complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, orchestrated a fraud scheme by connecting PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts to credit cards issued by Facebook.

Furlow-Smiles, who was Facebook's lead strategist and global head of the company's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs reportedly used these accounts to make fraudulent payments to individuals for various goods and services Facebook never received.

The federal complaint does not make it clear whether her associates face charges related to the fraud, Fox News reports.

Prosecutors claim that the recipients of these payments would then return a portion of the money to Furlow-Smiles. These kickbacks were allegedly given in cash or transferred to various accounts, including one belonging to her husband.

"Furlow-Smiles used lies and deceit to defraud both vendors and Facebook employees," stated Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Atlanta office. "The FBI works hard to make sure greed like this doesn’t pay off and those who commit fraud are held accountable."

The FBI reports that some of these kickbacks were concealed in cash, at times wrapped inside T-shirts and other objects. Additionally, it is alleged that she had Facebook contract with vendors managed by her friends and associates, who in turn also provided her with kickbacks.

In an effort to hide the fraudulent activities, Furlow-Smiles reportedly submitted fabricated expense reports to Facebook, asserting that the individuals involved had contributed to various programs and events at the company, as per the Department of Justice. Once these individuals were brought on board, she is accused of endorsing fraudulent and exaggerated invoices. It is alleged that she received a part of the payments made to these vendors as under-the-table kickbacks.

The complaint also states that Furlow-Smiles deceived Facebook into making payments to entities that did not participate in the kickback scheme. This included almost $10,000 paid to an artist for specialized portrait work and over $18,000 to a preschool.

"Motivated by greed, she used her time to orchestrate an elaborate criminal scheme in which fraudulent vendors paid her kickbacks in cash. She even involved relatives, friends, and other associates in her crimes, all to fund a lavish lifestyle through fraud rather than hard and honest work," U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan stated.

Prosecutors claim that Furlow-Smiles financed a lavish lifestyle in both California and Georgia using the proceeds from her illegal activities.

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