Barbara Furlow-Smiles was a Lead Strategist and Global Head of Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Engagement at Facebook. She’s pleaded guilty to fraud and defrauding the corporation.
Furlow-Smiles allegedly paid friends, family, and acquaintances using PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App under the guise of having them furnish Facebook with products and services. But these people didn’t provide the business with any services or commodities.
Falsely stating that her acquaintances or their firms conducted work on Facebook initiatives and events, Furlow-Smiles filed phony expense reports to disguise the fictitious transactions on her Facebook credit cards.
Most of the funds were sent back to Furlow-Smiles by these colleagues after receiving payments. This was done in the form of cash and transfers to accounts owned by her husband and others. They would personally hand over money, send it to Federal Express, or even hide cash in a box of T-shirts to evade detection.
Furlow-Smiles ordered her accomplices to pay each other or others she owed money to to cover her tracks even further.
Facebook was onboarded by many suppliers owned and run by friends and allies of Furlow-Smiles, who also provided kickbacks. Furlow-Smiles authorized purchase requisitions for these contractors to work with Facebook after Facebook had accepted their contracts. After that, Furlow-Smiles gave the go-ahead to pay the suppliers using inflated and fake invoices. Following Facebook’s payment, Furlow-Smiles instructed the suppliers to reimburse her for some funds.
Among her accomplices were a university instructor, friends, family, nannies, babysitters, and former interns from a previous employment. In addition to facilitating payments to those who did not pay kickbacks, she utilized Facebook to her advantage. Facebook forked out almost $18,000 to a preschool for tuition and over $10,000 to an artist for custom photographs.
Based on false charges and invoices, Furlow-Smiles embezzled almost $4 million from Facebook, even though the firm never received the products or services. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the matter, and Meta has been accommodating and cooperative so far.