The Former Head Of Facebook DEI Just Admitted She Embezzled $4 Million From The Company

In a startling turn of events, a former global diversity strategist at Facebook, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, admitting to siphoning over $4 million from the social media giant. The misappropriation aimed at funding an extravagant lifestyle spanning California and Georgia has raised eyebrows, revealing an elaborate scheme that exploited her position within Facebook’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs.

Furlow-Smiles, who oversaw various diversity initiatives at Facebook from 2017 to mid-2021, orchestrated an intricate wire fraud involving fraudulent vendors, fictitious charges, and cash kickbacks. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta disclosed that the stolen funds were acquired through deceptive means, tarnishing the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) she was entrusted to uphold.

Despite not holding the top DEI position at Facebook, Furlow-Smiles executed a scheme that deceived the company into disbursing funds for goods and services that were never provided. The list of accomplices involved friends, relatives, former interns, nannies, babysitters, a hair stylist, and even her university tutor. Prosecutors disclosed instances where Facebook paid individuals, some of whom did not provide kickbacks, including $10,000 to an artist for specialty portraits and over $18,000 to a preschool for tuition.

Former Facebook diversity czar pleads guilty to robbing company of $4  million | WKEF

To execute her fraudulent activities seamlessly, Furlow-Smiles linked PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts to her Facebook credit cards, facilitating payments to associates under the guise of legitimate transactions. U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan condemned her actions, emphasizing the betrayal of trust in undermining the importance of the DEI mission.

Acknowledging Meta’s cooperation, prosecutors noted the company’s assistance in the criminal investigation. Furlow-Smiles, residing in Atlanta, awaits sentencing scheduled for March 19, having been released on a $5,000 bond. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, affirmed its collaboration with law enforcement, expressing commitment to addressing the situation.

This alarming case not only underscores the vulnerability of corporate trust but also highlights the potential repercussions of individuals exploiting positions of influence for personal gain.

As legal proceedings unfold, the incident prompts reflection on the importance of safeguarding ethical standards within corporate structures, particularly in roles dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion.

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