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HomeNewsFormer DEI Executive at Facebook Pleads Guilty In a $4 Million Fraud...

Former DEI Executive at Facebook Pleads Guilty In a $4 Million Fraud Lawsuit 

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Barbara Furlow-Smiles is in court, answering charges of embezzlement and fraud. The scheme that Furlow-Smiles used in fleecing Facebook, now Meta, was deliberate.

A mugshot of Furlow-Smiles alongside a Meta logo
Source: Oneindia News/YouTube

Being a manager at Facebook, she enjoyed a fair share of financial autonomy. This autonomy was to help her take the initiative, without bottlenecks, to encourage a healthy workplace culture for staff members.

Furlow-Smiles’ crime includes a network of kickbacks, largely from vendors she assisted in onboarding with Facebook.

However, an investigation would later reveal that the different vendors involved in the scheme belonged to the defendant’s friends, relatives, acquaintances, and former colleagues.

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After onboarding her fictitious vendors, she would connect their payment apps to her Facebook credit card. Sometimes, some payments were indeed for services but at outrageous rates. However, some of these services are bogus from fake and non-existent vendors.

The US Attorney’s Office in Georgia filed a lawsuit against Furlow-Smiles last week. The six-page document indicts the defendant of wire fraud and running a scheme resulting in an intentional breach of trust.

The case file reads that Furlow-Smiles created Venmo, PayPal, and CashApp accounts. She then linked these accounts to her Facebook credit card and approved vendor payments through them. However, she started her fraudulent schemes by using her office’s authority to onboard fake vendors on behalf of Facebook.

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Most of the vendors are in the names of Furlow-Smiles’ friends, associates, and relatives. She would then generate expense reports of services or goods that the fake vendors have provided. Since these vendors already possess Facebook approvals, the company will create a purchase order in their name, thanks to the defendant. 

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The scheme made it look like Facebook was paying for goods and services to expedite programs and events by Furlow-Smiles. However, once the vendors receive the funds, they forward kickbacks to the defendant. Furlow-Smiles ensured all the kickbacks came to her in cash to avoid any trail that may connect the transactions to her.

She would sometimes request her cohorts in the scheme to mail the cash proceeds of the fraudulent transactions to her. On other occasions, they send the cash through Federal Express, always wrapping it in other items, like clothing.

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Interestingly, some friends, relatives, and associates complicit in the scheme did not know of the ongoing fraud. They were simply pawns on Furlow-Smiles’ chessboard.

Unfortunately for the mastermind, her scheme fell apart in July 2021. Furlow-Smiles made an interstate payment via PayPal to the tune of $14,406.30 using her Facebook credit card. Regulatory bodies found this transaction to violate Title 18 of the United States Code.

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Furlow-Smiles is awaiting her final sentence in March 2024. However, she would have to repay the $4 million for which she defrauded her former employer. Likewise, she may forfeit her properties to the tune of that amount if she cannot make the sum available. 

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