Barbara Furlow-Smiles, former DEI manager at Nike and Facebook, who admitted to stealing $5 million through kickback schemes, was sentenced to federal prison for her crimes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced this week that Furlow-Smiles was sentenced to five years and three months for her fraud scheme and ordered to pay restitution of $121,054.50 to Nike and $4,981,783.58 to Meta-owned Facebook.

“Furlow-Smiles shamelessly violated her position of trust as a DEI executive at Facebook to steal millions from the company utilizing a scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fake invoices and cash kickbacks,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement announcing the sentence.

“After being terminated from Facebook, she brazenly continued the fraud as a DEI leader at Nike, where she stole another six-figure sum from their diversity program,” Buchanan continued. “Her prison sentence reflects the consequences of her decision to orchestrate an intricate scheme to defraud two of her employers for personal profit.”

Furlow-Smiles led diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at Facebook from January 2017 to September 2021 and was responsible for developing and executing DEI initiatives, operations and engagement programs. Prosecutors say she committed the fraud by linking PayPal, Venmo and Cash App accounts to credit cards given to her by Facebook and used those accounts to pay friends, relatives, former interns at a prior job, nannies, babysitters, a hairstylist, and others for goods and services never provided to the company.

After Facebook terminated Furlow-Smiles, she was hired at Nike as a DEI senior director from November 2021 to February 2023, where she created a similar kickback scheme against the company.

“As Lead Strategist at Facebook, Furlow-Smiles’ employer put an extreme amount of trust in her, only to have that trust completely violated,” said Keri Farley, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “After she was fired, she carelessly continued her fraudulent schemes at Nike, thinking she was untouchable. As a result,” Farley added, “she not only threw away a lucrative career but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed.”

Lead image courtesy Nike