Former Facebook and Nike Diversity Manager Sentenced to Prison for $5 Million Fraud Scheme

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Barbara Furlow Smiles

Former Facebook and Nike diversity program manager, Barbara Furlow-Smiles, has been sentenced for orchestrating a scheme to steal over $5 million from her employers. Furlow-Smiles, who previously held roles at Facebook and Nike, used fraudulent vendors, fake paperwork, and cash kickbacks in her elaborate scheme.

The U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan highlighted Furlow-Smiles’ breach of trust, stating that she shamelessly exploited her position at Facebook, then continued her fraudulent activities at Nike even after being terminated. Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, emphasized Furlow-Smiles’ disregard for her responsibilities and the consequences of her actions.

During her tenure at Facebook from January 2017 to September 2021, Furlow-Smiles, as Lead Strategist, misused her authority to approve invoices and submit purchase requisitions, enabling her to carry out the fraud. She linked her Facebook credit cards to personal accounts and directed payments for nonexistent goods and services to friends and associates, who then kicked back the majority of the funds to her.

At Nike, where she worked from November 2021 to February 2023, Furlow-Smiles employed similar tactics, this time using her corporate card to pay associates via PayPal and Venmo for fictitious expenses related to a Juneteenth event.

In total, she stole over $4.9 million from Facebook and more than $120,000 from Nike, financing a lavish lifestyle across multiple states. Furlow-Smiles, 38, of Marietta, Georgia, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution totaling over $5.1 million.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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