Former Facebook Global Diversity Executive Pleads Guilty to $4 Million Fraud Scheme

2 min read

Atlanta, GA – Barbara Furlow-Smiles, the former Global Diversity Executive at Facebook, now Meta Platforms, Inc., has pleaded guilty to orchestrating a complex scheme defrauding the company of over $4 million. The scheme involved fraudulent vendors, fictitious charges, and cash kickbacks. U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan highlighted the misuse of trust in a position meant for fostering diversity and inclusion.

Furlow-Smiles, 38, held a prominent role at Facebook from January 2017 to September 2021, leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. Exploiting her authority, she used company credit cards and manipulated purchase requisitions and invoices to facilitate the fraudulent activities.

The scheme operated through two primary methods. First, Furlow-Smiles linked various payment accounts to her Facebook credit cards, paying friends, relatives, and associates for services supposedly rendered to Facebook, which were never provided. To conceal these false charges, she submitted fraudulent expense reports. Associates, unaware of the source of payments, returned the money to Furlow-Smiles in cash kickbacks.

Second, Furlow-Smiles facilitated the approval of contracts for vendors owned by friends and associates. After approving inflated invoices, she directed the vendors to return a portion of the money to her. The elaborate scheme involved recruiting numerous individuals, including friends, relatives, and even a university tutor, to receive money and pay kickbacks.

In total, Furlow-Smiles stole over $4 million, using the funds to sustain a luxurious lifestyle in California and Georgia. Sentencing for Furlow-Smiles is scheduled for March 19, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg.

The investigation is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with Meta providing valuable assistance and cooperation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen H. McClain and Bernita B. Malloy are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is