#MyTechBestfriend fallout continues TechCrunch
The bad blood between the MyTechBestfriend tech boot camp and many of its former students is all but over, according to nearly a dozen people who spoke to TechCrunch.
In November, TechCrunch detailed the fallout between Texas-based MTBF founder Mary Awodele and her students. The students accused Awodele of bullying and harassment while alleging that the MTBF program, which cost up to $6,000, consisted of plagiarized courses that could be found online at a more affordable price. At the time, Awodele told TechCrunch she could not comment on the allegations “due to ongoing legal proceedings.”
Since then, those who have spoken out against Awodele and the program have said they struggled to get refunds and faced continued harassment.
Awodele, meanwhile, posted online in a screenshot of the Instagram story seen by TechCrunch that she plans to rebrand the company in the new year. She also hired a Texas-based attorney, Kim Daily, and brought in Curt Bender, a Florida attorney who is a consultant for MTBF. Neither Awodele nor Daily responded directly to TechCrunch’s requests for comment, but Bender responded to a series of questions sent to Awodele. Bender said MTBF has no imminent plans to rebrand.
To request refunds, students said they began contacting Stripe, which was, according to receipts seen by TechCrunch, one of MTBF’s payment processors. MTBF then posted a story on Instagram saying that the new program it hopes to launch will be for those who are “Affirm, Klarna or Afterpay”. MTBF also said it wanted to venture into career services and would vet potential students to ensure the new program had a “more mature crowd.”
The #MyTechFallout continues
A major point of contention between Awodele and his students remains the fees paid to attend MTBF courses. Awodele told the students that 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 said the MTBF would not process any refunds. Students told TechCrunch that the refund process was inconsistent with Awodele’s promises.
A Nov. 18 email to TechCrunch shows an MTBF employee agreeing to reimburse Shay, a former student who requested to use his nickname, within 10 days. After 10 days, Shay followed, but MTBF replied, “Hi. Call your bank and don’t email us again. Thank you.”
Allegations of the program’s deception also continued to spread. Some students have sent TechCrunch their receipts from MTBF, showing that their transactions were treated as gifts rather than services, which may be a tactic to avoid paying tax on the revenue generated. If these purchases were indeed treated as gifts, it would be an income classification error that would impact how MTBF is taxed and could land Awodele in serious trouble with the law, including penalties. jail time, two financial experts and attorney David Reischer of Reischer & Reischer told TechCrunch. .
Bender said that MTBF “was not aware that exchange transactions were being treated as gifts, and he is correcting and remedying the situation.”
According to correspondence seen by TechCrunch, Awodele also threatened to report several students to the credit bureaus in the event that she lost bank disputes. Bender, however, said MTBF “never sent anyone to a credit bureau” but “engaged with Fidelity Information Corporation in two instances.”
Victoria, a former student, using a pseudonym for fear of reprisals from Awodele, successfully disputed MTBF’s tuition fees with her bank. Then she received, according to documents seen by TechCrunch, what appears to be a letter from Fidelity Information Corporation, a collection agent. The letter, an attempt to collect tuition money on behalf of MTBF, said to send payments directly to MTBF and listed an address associated with an apartment building in Houston, not the FIC, which is based in Los Angeles. (Bender said this was due to FIC’s terms of engagement. FIC could not be reached for comment.
Many students continued to report MTBF to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), FBI, and IRS, which some students said 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 meeting [TWC] regulatory requirements” and is aware that “at least one former student said the FBI and FTC contacted them”.
Students who first spoke out about the allegations against MTBF say they continue to be harassed. On December 15, Charlie, a former student, woke up to text messages, one of which read that 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 coming your way. Just know it’s us. What is done is done. So be it. Ashe,” the text message read, followed by a photo of what appears to be an object used for voodoo.
Bender told TechCrunch that “the founder of MTBF is a Christian and a Nigerian and none of them practice[s] nor participate[s] in voodoo. He added that MTBF does, however, use “hippie practices with students, including candle lighting and protesting for personal achievement.
“But never anything against enemies,” he noted.
Charlie, whose last name is withheld, thinks Awodele gave people her number to harass her. TechCrunch previously reported that Awodele has a group called #MTBFSPECIALFORCES, which she sends out to harass people who speak out against her or the company. Two hours after TechCrunch contacted Awodele and his attorney for comment, Charlie received a message from Bender, who wrote that MTBF “nor its affiliates” were involved in the alleged threats – which was the question TechCrunch had to them. asked a few hours ago.
“Please report these threats to law enforcement, and MTBF will assist you in any investigation,” Bender wrote in the email seen by TechCrunch. Charlie replied, “There’s nothing else to say than I’ll see you in court.”
The voodoo incident scared many people, adding to the fear that keeps most students enrolled in the program, a current student, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Awodele, told TechCrunch. Although MTBF is back in session, it’s unclear how many students have dropped out – and how many remain.
“She’s a narcissist with a God complex who believes she’s untouchable and needs to be shut down,” Amber, a former student using a pseudonym out of fear of reprisal from Awodele, said of the founder. “We won’t stop until she’s able to do this to someone else.”