A one-time Facebook executive based in Atlanta has pleaded guilty to defrauding $4 million out of Facebook parent company Meta, by embezzling money from her company credit card, and directing contracts to friends in exchange for kickbacks.
While Facebook/Meta is based in Menlo Park, the sprawling social media company has offices around the world. And a wild story is coming out of Meta’s Atlanta offices, where the company’s former executive in a diversity, equity, and inclusion department between 2017 to 2021, 38-year-old Barbara Furlow-Smiles, just pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $4 million from the company, according to the Chronicle.
“Motivated by greed, she used her time (at Meta) to orchestrate an elaborate criminal scheme in which fraudulent vendors paid her kickbacks in cash,” the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia said in a Wednesday statement. “She even involved relatives, friends, and other associates in her crimes, all to fund a lavish lifestyle through fraud rather than hard and honest work.”
Per the Chron, some of the more brazen purchases Furlow-Smiles made on the company dime included $10,000 custom portraits and an $18,000 preschool tuition. She also admitted to linking her Meta corporate her personal Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo accounts. And she linked her friends into the scheme too, awarding them company contracts and then taking kickbacks in return for doing so.
“To conceal the bogus charges on her Facebook credit cards, Furlow-Smiles submitted fraudulent expense reports, falsely claiming that her associates or their businesses performed work on programs and events for Facebook, such as providing swag or marketing services when, in fact, they had not done so,” according to federal prosecutors.
Furlow-Smiles is scheduled to be sentenced in March 2024.
Image: MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 28: A car drives by a new logo and the name 'Meta' on the sign in front of Facebook headquarters on October 28, 2021 in Menlo Park, California. A new name and logo were unveiled at Facebook headquarters after a much anticipated name change for the social media platform. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)