The bad blood between tech bootcamp MyTechBestfriend and many of its former students is anything but done, according to nearly a dozen people who spoke to gotechbusiness.com.
In November, gotechbusiness.com described the fallout between Texas-based MTBF founder Mary Awodele and her students. Students accused Awodele of bullying and harassment, while claiming that the MTBF program, which cost up to $6,000, consisted of plagiarized courses that could be found online for a more affordable price. At the time, Awodele told gotechbusiness.com she was unable to comment on those allegations “due to ongoing legal proceedings.”
Since then, those who have spoken out against Awodele and the program have said they are struggling to get refunds and are being harassed all the time.
Awodele, meanwhile, posted online in a screenshot of an Instagram story seen by gotechbusiness.com that she plans to rebrand the company in the new year. She also hired a Texas lawyer, kim dailyand brought Short Bender, a Florida attorney who is an advisor to MTBF. Neither Awodele nor Daily responded directly to gotechbusiness.com’s requests for comment, but Bender responded to a series of questions sent to Awodele. Bender said MTBF has no immediate plans to rebrand.
To request refunds, students said they started contacting Stripe, which was one of MTBF’s payment processors, according to receipts seen by gotechbusiness.com. MTBF then posted an Instagram story stating that the new program it hopes to launch would be for those who are an “Affirm, Klarna, or Afterpay person.” MTBF also said it wanted to venture into career services and vet potential students to ensure the new program had a more “mature audience”.
The #MyTechFallout continues
A major bone of contention between Awodele and its students remains the fees paid to participate in MTBF’s courses. Awodele told students she would issue refunds to those who wanted to drop out after the fallout in late November, even though the course contract signed by the students stated that MTBF would not process refunds. Students told gotechbusiness.com that the refund process was inconsistent with Awodele’s promises.
A Nov. 18 email forwarded to gotechbusiness.com shows an MTBF employee agreeing to refund Shay, a former student who requested to use their nickname, within 10 days. After 10 days had passed, Shay followed up, but MTBF replied, “Hello. Call your bank and don’t email us again. Thank you.”
Allegations of the program’s cheating also continued to spread. Some students sent gotechbusiness.com their receipts from MTBF, which revealed that their transactions were processed as gifts rather than services, which may be a tactic to avoid paying taxes on generated income. If these purchases were indeed accounted for as gifts, it would be a misclassification of income that affects how MTBF is taxed and could land Awodele in serious trouble with the law, including jail time, two financial experts and lawyer David Traveler’s Reischer & Reischer told gotechbusiness.com.
Bender said MTBF was “unaware that exchange related transactions were being processed as gifts, and it is correcting and rectifying the situation.”
According to correspondence seen by gotechbusiness.com, Awodele also threatened to report several students to credit bureaus in cases where she lost bank disputes. Bender, however, said that MTBF “never sent anyone to a credit bureau,” but “contacted Fidelity Information Corporation on two occasions.”
Victoria, a former college student, using a pseudonym for fear of retaliation from Awodele, successfully contested MTBF tuition with her bank. Then, according to documents seen by gotechbusiness.com, she received what appears to be a letter from Fidelity Information Corporation, a collection agency. The letter, an attempt to collect tuition fees on MTBF’s behalf, said payments were sent directly to MTBF and listed an address associated with a Houston apartment building, not FIC, which is based in Los Angeles. (Bender said this is due to FIC’s engagement terms. FIC could not be reached for comment.
Many students have continued to report MTBF to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the FBI, and the IRS, all of whom some say have contacted students about the allegations against MTBF. (The IRS declined to comment, while the FBI and TWC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) Bender said, “MTBF is in the process of meeting [TWC] regulatory requirements” and is aware that “at least one former student says the FBI and FTC have contacted them.”
Students who initially spoke out about allegations against MTBF say they continue to be harassed. On December 15, Charlie, a former student, woke up to text messages, one saying her name was in a jar somewhere in Haiti.
“Be sure to pray for the wickedness that is in your heart. When a stream of bad luck starts to come your way. Just know it’s us. It’s no use crying over spilled milk. Just leave it that way. Ashe,” the text message read, followed by a photo of what appears to be an object used for voodoo.
Bender told gotechbusiness.com that “the founder of MTBF is a Christian and Nigerian and practices neither[s] not participate either[s] into voodoo.” He added that MTBF does, however, “practice hippie-style practices with students, including lighting candles and manifestations for personal success.
“But never anything against enemies,” he noted.
Charlie, whose last name is withheld, believes Awodele gave people her number to harass her. gotechbusiness.com previously reported that Awodele had a group called #MTBFSPECIALFORCES that she sent out to harass people who speak out against her or the company. Two hours after gotechbusiness.com contacted Awodele and its attorney for comment, Charlie received a message from Bender, who wrote that MTBF “neither its affiliates” were involved in the alleged threats — which was the question gotechbusiness.com asked them just hours earlier. .
“Please report these threats to law enforcement, and MTBF will assist with any investigation,” Bender wrote in the email seen by gotechbusiness.com. Charlie replied, “There’s nothing left to say but I see you in court.”
The voodoo incident has scared many people, adding to the fear that holds most students for the program, a current student, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Awodele, told gotechbusiness.com. While MTBF is back on track, it’s unclear how many students dropped out — and how many are left.
“She’s a narcissist with a God complex who believes she’s untouchable and needs to be turned off,” Amber, a former student who used a pseudonym for fear of retaliation from Awodele, said of the founder. “We won’t stop until she can’t do this to anyone else.”