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Barbara Furlow-Smiles: Ex-Facebook Exec. Pleads Guilty To Stealing $4m “To Fund Lavish Lifestyle”

BY Abena Dzaka December 18, 2023 4:53 PM EDT
Photo Credit:LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 08: Barbara Furlow-Smiles attends the 2020 Sisters' Awards at Skirball Cultural Center on March 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors in Georgia and California claimed that a former Facebook executive, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, stole more than $4 million from the social media powerhouse “to fund a lavish lifestyle”.

Barbara pleaded guilty to obtaining over $4 million from Facebook without authorization while working as an executive for the company.

According to information available online, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said in a statement that Barbara, who oversaw several Facebook Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs from 2017 until mid-2021, embezzled the funds “through an elaborate scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fictitious charges, and cash kickbacks.”

Prosecutors claimed Furlow-Smiles, 38, did several things, including forcing the Meta subsidiary to pay individuals for products and services that were never really rendered to the business.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement, “These individuals included friends, relatives, former interns from a prior job, nannies and babysitters, a hair stylist, and her university tutor.” Additionally, the office claimed, “This defendant disrespected the importance of her diversity, equity, and inclusion mission by abusing her trusted position as a global diversity executive for Facebook and defrauding the company out of millions of dollars.”

Furlow-Smiles is reported to have also funded a lavish lifestyle in Georgia and California with her Facebook expense account. Hair salons, babysitters, and even a $18,000 preschool tuition were among the deceitful costs.

Furlow-Smiles’ tactic, according to prosecutors, was to link her business credit cards to PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, then use these cards to make payments to third parties for services that were never rendered. Friends, relatives, and other acquaintances who received these payments would subsequently give part of the money back to Furlow-Smiles as kickbacks.

Furlow-Smiles allegedly created inflated invoices for suppliers, who then paid her back partially. “She even implicated relatives, friends, and other associates in her fraudulent activities, all in an attempt to fund her opulent lifestyle not through honest, hard work but through deception,” prosecutors noted in highlighting her actions.

Barbara Furlow-Smiles’ sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2024.