The Case of Jonathan Kern: 23 years later

Elizabeth Gregg (formerly Grzeszczyk) first appeared on Unsolved Mysteries in 1996. Now, over 20 years later, she continues to share her experience in the hopes of helping others.

It started back in 1994, when Elizabeth met Jonathan Kern, a well-known Formula One race driver, in a hotel in Miami, Florida. Elizabeth knew something about car racing and was at first skeptical. She recalled how Kern eventually won her over:

“And I asked a few more questions, and I said, ‘Well, what did you do before you raced cars?’ He said, ‘I was a medical doctor.’ And I said, ‘That’s right.’ I knew some background. I said, ‘Who did you race for?’ And he told me Tiero, which I knew was a British team. And I thought, ‘Wow, it really is you.’”

But in reality, the man claiming to be Jonathan Palmer was actually Jonathan Kern, a con man. Eventually, Kern charmed his way into Elizabeth’s Connecticut home. She still believed he was Jonathan Palmer, still believed he had put his career on hold to spend time with her. But Kern was apparently only interested in her money.

During his stay with Elizabeth, Kern made what he said were frequent business trips to Manhattan. He made the drive in a $125,000 Mercedes lent to him by a local dealer. He also carried Elizabeth’s ATM card, just in case of an emergency. During one trip, he called to say his wallet had been stolen. Once again, Elizabeth put her own money at Kern’s disposal.

Eventually, Kern started spending more time in Manhattan than with Elizabeth, causing her to have a complete change of heart. When he left one day, Elizabeth began calling numbers from her phone bill, matching them with names Kern had mentioned. The answers came back the same: the caller was named Jonathan Lake, not Palmer. Elizabeth was crushed.

Police said that Kern swindled some $15,000 from Elizabeth, forcing her into bankruptcy. There is still an active warrant for Kern, and should he return to the U.S. and be caught, he would be arrested. Today, Elizabeth continues to pursue the case with a Facebook page where she hopes others who may have had similar experiences can find comfort and share information.

When Kern was reached by email, he stated, “I think Ms Grzeszczyk really needs to get a life. Her accusations are exaggerated and fictitious and my family, colleagues and I are fed up to the back teeth of this attention seeker ….”

Read more of Kern’s comments and more about Elizabeth here:

You can watch the Unsolved Mysteries segment now streaming on Amazon Prime in season nine with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.


  1. Debra

    Elizabeth, have you ever thought of contacting the IRS? John has taken money(income) and I bet he’s never paid a dime in taxes. With everyone he’s swindled, it could add up to a pretty penny. Just a thought.


  2. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Ballard

    I’m seeking other victims of the British con man Jonathan Kern (who owns Shellshock Designs) for a possible Class Action Lawsuit. He has victims all over the world including France where he is now residing. Kern boasts what a successful businessman he is. However, he has never compensated any of his victims nor shown any remorse. He also comes from a wealthy family and stands to inherit money. I hope to put a lien on any money he inherits to be used toward paying back all of his victims. If you were a victim of Kern’s and would like to band together with other women, please send me a message. Your identity and information will remain confidential.


    • Bobby Wade

      Elizabeth that bogus check he wrote to you, did your bank work with you to pay it back?


      • Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Ballard

        Dear Bobby Wade, My bank’s idea of working with me was to offer me a loan for the amount of the returned check. I refused as I didn’t think it was fair to return the check after they had cleared it a year prior. Instead I filed for bankruptcy. My bank was actually a credit union. I spend two years fighting what the credit union did going all the way to the head of the National Federal Credit Union. I learned that my credit union was reimbursed by the intermediary bank for the amount of the check because as they argued, “A credit union, such as Miles can reasonably assume settlement on sums where a credit has been granted a year previously.” The National Federal Credit Union wouldn’t do anything about this. Perhaps if I had an attorney I could have gone after the credit union, but I didn’t have the money or the energy.


  3. Joe smith

    I have killed an now I have to come clean joe smith I will not turn myself in because I am dying of terminal cancer I have a year left to live and I still want to see my children


  4. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Hello Heather,
    Thank you so very much for your kind sentiments. You make me feel like all I have gone through to bring my story to light, and expose Jonathan Kern has been worth it. You hit the nail on the head when you wrote that I am reliving this story over and over to help others. This is so true! I would like nothing better than to forget this ever happened. But I couldn’t in good conscience, knowing if I did, there may have been someone I could have helped out there and didn’t. Much love to you too, Elizabeth


  5. Heather Baker

    Elizabeth I just want to say that you are an inspiration. You took this horrible situation and turned it into something positive. It takes a strong person to put their story out there for the world to hear and it takes an even stronger person to relive that story over and over again in order to help someone else. It would be great it this man was brought to justice but even if he’s not you’ve come through this mess a stronger wiser person who is making a difference and trying to leave the world a better place than she found it. Much love ☮⚖


  6. Ali Elghoul

    He claims to run a company and have a website. I saw a YouTube video of his. I am a devout Christian who does not believe in karma. God is Sovereign and I agree, vengeance belongs to the LORD. He knows the deepest secrets of Jonathan Kern’s heart. You can rest assured, Elizabeth. Jesus will be Kern’s judge.


  7. Bruce Boone


    I am so sorry that this has happened to you. But keep the faith and keep your head up, ok? He may be able to run from justice, but he cannot outrun God. God created him and vengeance belongs to God. Kern, if you are reading this, eventually you WILL be caught. Keep on running Forrest Gump – Kern. It will not last. That is a guarantee.


  8. michael nitsch

    what about the guy who abducted an Asian girl from her apt. and made her prostitute herself was this case ever solved?? it was from years ago!


  9. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Dear Jason Gunter,
    Thank you so much for recognizing the effort I’ve made and continue to make to try and prevent others from being conned. Sooner or later karma will catch up with Kern and he will con the wrong person.
    And thank you for your kind thoughts. I have fully recovered from my horrific experience and am doing well. I was determined not to let Kern ruin my life. I would not give him the power to do so. This is the attitude I try to convey to others who have been conned.


  10. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Dear Matthew T,
    Thank you so much for your email. I tried to find an attorney to help me sue him in the UK but no one was interested in representing me. Thank you for the idea of posting links to flood his office with calls to hinder his production. I will do so. I would also love to have Kern extradited back to the States to face charges, but it’s not my decision.
    Back in 2011 Kern hired an attorney and filed an Injunction against me in court in the UK to remove all of my posts removed from the internet. I represented myself in court via a teleconference and successfully had the Injunction discharged.
    I did contact the real Jonathan Palmer’s office years ago. He was helpful at first and even agreed to appear on the Unsolved Mysteries episode which I greatly appreciated. However, over time Kern’s cons no long affect him and he does not want to be involved. However, Kern is conning other important people (I cannot reveal their names) and they are willing to take action against him. I just need to be patient a bit longer.


  11. Jason Gunter

    Elizabeth, what you have done and continue to do deserves recognition as you are trying to save others from the same heartache. I truly hope you are right and he is not happy. Along with that, my anger has me hoping that one day soon (if it has not happened already), he will try and con the wrong person, and they will deal with him appropriately. I hope your own life was able to move on and prosper.


  12. Matthew T

    Is there any way you can sue him in his home country since we have an extradition treaty with them? I’m unfamiliar with European law so forgive my naivety. Also possibly post links where we can flood his office with calls to hinder his production and get him fired from making a high end living. I really wish we could get him back in the US and put him in prison for many years. Also have you tried talking to the real Jonathan Palmer? Maybe he can help pay to extradite him and clear his good name as well!


  13. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Jason, thanks so much for acknowledging my work in letting others know about Kern. He has no scruples and doesn’t care who he hurts. I’m not sure if you’re aware Kern is the black sheep of a very wealthy family and has an air of entitlement to him. If you have something he wants, he feels he’s entitled to it. It’s been heartbreaking over the years to hear stories from people Kern has conned. He has ruined people’s lives. And I do agree with you about karma. Kern may not be in jail where he belongs, but he can’t be a happy person. You can’t treat people the way he does and be happy and at peace with yourself. He has to be miserable, which is at least some consolation to me as I haven’t been successful in putting an end to his scams.


  14. Jason Gunter

    No problem Elizabeth for the delay, and please forgive my own.
    Thanks for the information, and I do understand also, that is a lot of money.
    I still applaud you for letting others know about this ‘man’. It makes my blood boil knowing that he has gotten away with his crimes, but as people so often say, ‘what goes around, comes around’. Karma has it’s eye on him.


  15. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Dear Jay, Thank you for taking the time to reply. I apologize for not responding sooner. I just now read your comment. It’s a matter of money. It would cost the state of Connecticut approximately $50,000 to extradite Kern from the U.K. back to the United States. The state of Connecticut isn’t willing to spend that much money and I can’t say as I blame them. It’s at least keeping Kern out of the U.S., as I’m sure he is aware of the charges.


  16. Jay

    Dear Elizabeth,
    All respect to you for trying to prevent this conman from taking advantage of anyone else. It is such a shame to know that he is here in the UK and seemingly out of reach of justice in the USA. Forgive my ignorance, but how is it that he cannot be extradited? Are the charges agaisnt him just not sever enough?


  17. Elizabeth Grzeszczyk Gregg

    Jonathan Kern has definitely not reformed. He continues to commit fraud, this time in the guise of an on-line interior design business, ShellShock Designs based in England. I recently contacted the prestigious “Society of British and International Design” (SBID) in London, England to inform them that Kern was advertising on his company website that he was an SBID 2016 Finalist, which I suspected to be false. SBID investigation into this matter determined that Kern indeed had not been a finalist with the result that Kern’s membership to the Society was cancelled for breach of the Code of Conduct. Not to mention that deliberately misleading promotional sales materiel is a criminal offense. I am in the process of contacting other companies whose awards Kern also displays on his website to determine if these are legitimate.
    I have posted information on-line about Kern to try and prevent others from being conned by him. Kern filed an injunction against me to have my websites and blogsites removed from the internet. Sir Michael Tugendhat presided over my case in London, England and had the injunction discharged, thus upholding my right to post information on Kern’s criminal history on google, yahoo and other websites.
    The charges I brought against Jonathan Kern in Milford, Connecticut remain current: felony larceny, felony forgery and criminal impersonation.


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