In a significant case, a former Facebook executive, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $4 million from the tech giant during her tenure as the global head of employee resource groups and diversity engagement from January 2017 to September 2021. Now known as Meta, Facebook Inc. faced a breach of trust as Furlow-Smiles exploited her executive role for personal gain.
U.S. Attorney Northern District of Georgia, Ryan K. Buchanan, revealed that Furlow-Smiles misused her position to fund an opulent lifestyle in California and Georgia. The fraudulent activities involved linking company credit cards to payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. She then paid for services that were never rendered, funneling the funds back to herself through friends, relatives, and associates.
Expenses covered by Facebook funds included personal services such as hair stylists, babysitters, and an $18,000 payment to a preschool for tuition. Furlow-Smiles manipulated the system by creating inflated invoices for services that were not provided. The recipients of these payments, including friends and family, would then return a portion of the money to Furlow-Smiles as kickbacks.
Buchanan emphasized the abuse of trust, stating, “This defendant abused a position of trust as a global diversity executive for Facebook to defraud the company of millions of dollars, ignoring the insidious consequences of undermining the importance of her DEI mission.” The sentencing for Barbara Furlow-Smiles is scheduled for March 19, 2024. This case serves as a stark reminder of the challenges companies face in preventing internal fraud and ensuring the ethical conduct of their executives.