DEI Manager for Facebook, Nike sentenced in $5 million wire fraud case

ATLANTA, GA - Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, a former diversity program manager who worked for both Facebook and Nike and confessed to bilking the corporations out of $5 million in kickbacks is now bound for Federal Prison for five years and three months according to reporting released May 16th. 

Citing a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Fox News confirmed that in addition to her prison sentence, Furlow-Smiles has been ordered to pay $4,981,783.58 to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and $121,054.50 to Nike. Her sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. Furlow-Smiles was convicted of charges of wire fraud after she pleaded guilty in December 2023.

U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in the statement, "Furlow-Smiles shamelessly violated her position of trust as a DEI executive at Facebook to steal millions from the company utilizing a scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fake invoices, and cash kickbacks."

He added, "After being terminated from Facebook, she brazenly continued the fraud as a DEI leader at Nike, where she stole another six-figure sum from their diversity program. Her prison sentence reflects the consequences of her decision to orchestrate an intricate scheme to defraud two of her employers for personal profit."
  Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta elaborated on the ex-diversity manager's crime saying, "As Lead Strategist at Facebook, Furlow-Smiles’ employer put an extreme amount of trust in her, only to have that trust completely violated. After she was fired, she carelessly continued her fraudulent schemes at Nike, thinking she was untouchable. As a result, she not only threw away a lucrative career, but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed.”

The extent of the fraud uncovered by the investigation was laid out by the DOJ:
  • "First, Furlow-Smiles linked PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts to her Facebook credit cards and used those accounts to pay friends, relatives, and other associates for goods and services that in truth were never provided to Facebook. To conceal the bogus charges, Furlow-Smiles submitted fraudulent expense reports, falsely claiming that her associates or their businesses had performed work on programs and events for Facebook, such as providing swag or marketing services, when in fact they had not done so.
  • "After these individuals received the payments from Facebook, they returned the vast majority of the money to Furlow-Smiles. They paid these kickbacks in cash and through account transfers to others, including her husband. They paid the cash kickbacks in person and by Federal Express or mail, sometimes wrapping the cash in other items, such as T-shirts. Furlow-Smiles also directed associates to pay one another, or others to whom she owed money, to conceal her involvement in the scheme.
  • "Second, Furlow-Smiles caused Facebook to onboard several vendors that were owned and operated by friends and associates who paid her kickbacks. Furlow-Smiles approved fraudulent invoices for these vendors. After Facebook paid the invoices, Furlow-Smiles directed the vendors to return a portion of the money they received to her.
  • "Furlow-Smiles recruited numerous individuals to participate in the scheme. These individuals included friends, relatives, former interns from a prior job, nannies and babysitters, a hair stylist, and her university tutor. She also caused Facebook to make payments for her benefit to others who did not pay kickbacks. For example, Furlow-Smiles caused Facebook to pay nearly $10,000 to an artist for specialty portraits and more than $18,000 to a preschool for tuition."
Following her termination from Facebook, Furlow-Smiles was hired by Nike and essentially repeated the process, bypassing the firm's vendor practices, linking her Nike corporate card to her PayPal and Venmo accounts, falsely claiming expenses with kickbacks baked into them were related to a corporate Juneteenth event.
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Five years?????? What a joke!


Our legal system is rapidly becoming just that.....a joke.

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