Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 18, 2024

Former Diversity Manager at Facebook, Nike Sentenced for $5M Fraud

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a former diversity manager at Facebook and Nike, has been sentenced to over five years in prison for committing multimillion-dollar fraud against both corporations.

In a detailed ruling, Furlow-Smiles was found guilty of siphoning more than $5 million to support her extravagant lifestyle, as NBC News reports.

The Scheme Unfolded

After joining Facebook in 2017, Furlow-Smiles began her deceitful operations almost immediately. She linked multiple payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App to her company credit cards, fabricating payments for non-existent goods and services.

This enabled her to transfer considerable sums to her personal accounts through fake invoices and cash kickbacks, a significant amount of which was returned to her by accomplices.

Her fraudulent activities at Facebook continued unchecked until her dismissal in mid-2021. During her tenure, she misappropriated funds amounting to more than $4.9 million, which were extravagantly spent across California, Georgia, and Oregon.

High Trust, High Betrayal

Moving to Nike in November 2021, Furlow-Smiles wasted no time in exploiting her senior director position in diversity, equity, and inclusion. She replicated her fraudulent strategies, resulting in additional losses of a substantial six-figure sum over a relatively short period. Her actions not only resulted in substantial financial losses but also eroded the trust and morale of her colleagues and the broader corporate community.

U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan highlighted the extent of Furlow-Smiles' deception, noting the severe breach of trust at both major corporations. Nike’s representatives expressed profound disappointment, emphasizing the deep betrayal felt by the team.

A Family Caught in Turmoil

Furlow-Smiles, a resident of Marietta, faces personal upheaval, leaving behind a husband and an 8-year-old daughter as she serves her prison term. Required to report to prison by July 22, she must also confront the financial repercussions of her actions, with court orders to repay nearly $5.1 million in restitution to the affected companies.

Her attorney, Lance Clarke, argued for recognition of her personal qualities, stating that despite her crimes, she remains a committed mother and fundamentally a good person. These statements, however, have done little to mitigate the harsh judgment passed by her peers and the legal system.

Corporate Reactions and Consequences

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and Nike have both felt significant impacts not just financially but also emotionally and operationally. Meta reported losses exceeding the direct financial theft, citing over $4.5 million in additional expenses incurred due to Furlow-Smiles’ actions.

In response to these events, both companies have likely revisited their internal controls and employee oversight, especially concerning high-level managers trusted with significant corporate responsibilities. The repercussions of Furlow-Smiles' actions extend well beyond the immediate financial damages, affecting corporate culture and employee trust.

Looking Ahead

The legal outcomes and corporate responses serve as a stern warning about the potential consequences of abusing corporate trust. The case of Barbara Furlow-Smiles is a pivotal reminder of the vigilance needed in corporate governance and the importance of ethical conduct at all levels of operation.

As businesses continue to recover and strengthen their fraud prevention systems, this case leaves a lasting mark on the corporate world, underscoring the need for transparency and accountability. Furlow-Smiles' story is a cautionary tale, highlighting both the personal and professional ruin that can follow from a lapse in integrity.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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