Arizona business owners say “fake architect” took their money and disappeared

One businessman says he handed over more than $28,000
A Gilbert business owner thought he hired an architect, but instead, he took the $28,000 and disappeared.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:50 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- From weightlifting to fast-paced cardio, Jeremy Jones says he loves transforming people’s bodies and minds. “From a fitness standpoint and just helping people in general, I always say we get to help people through the vehicle of fitness,” Jeremy told On Your Side inside his gym.

Jeremy has operated his workout center, Funktional Fitness, for 14 years in Gilbert. He says the business has been so successful that he’s outgrown his current location and wants to move to a new and larger place. “It’s going to be brand spanking new. Modern and wide open.”

Jeremy even has computer-generated renderings hanging on a gym wall illustrating exactly what he envisions his new fitness center will look like. “We’re going to have nice entry and cardio here and outside will have artificial turf and we’ll have cold tubs,” he said.

To get things started, Jeremy hired an architect a year and a half ago to draw up plans for contractors so he could obtain permits. Construction was supposed to start a few months ago. “Back in September of 2020 we hired a guy by the name of Ivo Badilla and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes we ever made,” Jeremy said.

His full name is Ivonek Badilla, and he runs a business called Evo12th Street Designs. Jeremy says he wired Badilla and his company over $28,000 to get the job started and even signed a contract. “So this is Ivo Badilla, the con artist himself,” Jeremy said as he showed us a picture he found on the Internet.

According to Jeremy, the only thing he got for $28,000 from Badilla were two computer-generated renderings. “Those are pretty pricey pictures,” On Your Side’s Gary Harper said. “Yes, they are very expensive,” Jeremy replied.

On Your Side got involved and tried to track down Badilla at his Scottsdale apartment. Badilla has a doorbell camera, and no one answered the door. But after we left, we discovered troubling news.

The Arizona Board of Technical Registration licenses and regulates architects. But Badilla’s name and his business Evo 12th Street Designs are not registered.

It turns out that more victims tell On Your Side that they gave Badilla money for architecture, and he vanished with their money. One of those victims is Mike Biesemeyer. “What did you get for $12,500 from this so-called architect?” Harper asked. “Absolutely nothing,” he said.

Mike wanted to expand his company and handed over more than $12,500 to Badilla to draw up plans, but Badilla vanished with the money. “After I gave him the money, he went down the road and kept them and giving excuses after 3 to 5 weeks, and then he went silent on me,” Mike explained.

As for business owners like Mike and Jeremy and others, they agree that small losses here and there are part of doing business. But voluntarily handing over large sums of cash and trusting in someone is not part of a successful business model.

“What do you think he’s doing with your money? Harper asked. Jeremy replied, “Well, based on things I’ve seen on social media, I have seen him out at black tie events and nice restaurants in Scottsdale. So, I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Whose money is paying for that?’”

Knowing On Your Side was investigating, the fake contractor emailed me saying he plans on starting a payment plan with Jeremy. We’ll let you know if the first payment is made, and if it is, how much.