Jonathan Kern defrauds businesses and individuals while impersonating race car driver Jonathan Palmer.

Jonathan Kern


Gender: Male
DOB: 1/9/54
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
Defining Characteristics: Born in London; speaks with British accent, and is fluent in Italian and French. Smokes Dunhill cigarettes; likes designer clothes, expensive food, fine wines, expensive cars like Mercedes Benz sports car


Alleged scam artist, Jonathan Kern, has reportedly made a very profitable career out of impersonating a well-known Formula One race driver named Jonathan Palmer.   The real Jonathan Palmer was a medical doctor before he became a world champion driver. Palmer said he is all too familiar with Jonathan Kern:

“He is most at home wearing Versace clothes, eating caviar and smoked salmon, and driving Mercedes-Benz sports cars and being escorted by gorgeous women. And, as he cannot do that through genuinely earned income, he resorts to fraud to achieve his desired lifestyle.”

The real Jonathan Palmer

Kern has reportedly criss-crossed Europe, racking up bills for designer clothes, elegant restaurants, and five-star hotels, all under the name of Jonathan Palmer, and all unpaid.

Police said that in 1994, Kern brought his masquerade to America.   Elizabeth Grzeszczyk met him at 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.'”

Elizabeth wasn’t the only one impressed by Jonathan Kern.   Hotel owner David Colby recalled how a car dealer provided Kern with a $78,000 Jaguar, free of charge:

“They dropped the keys at the desk and they said, ‘This is for Mr. Palmer for his use while he’s in America, and please make sure that he gets it.’ We always believed him, and that just made us more convinced that everything was ok.”

Kern convinced everyone he was John Palmer

Elizabeth said that she thought the whole affair was almost too good to be true:

“I couldn’t understand intellectually why he was interested in me. I’m just a nobody. And I said to him, “Why are you interested in me?” And he told me he just wanted a steady relationship. He didn’t want the jet set life. And he convinced me over the next few days that I was what he was looking for.”

Elizabeth was impressed by Kern’s international connections.   Everyone at the hotel where Kern was staying, from bellhops to the manager, had been totally persuaded by his performance.   David Colby recalled:

“He just wove a web of intrigue around us and managed to have a very nice holiday at the hotel for five days and run up a huge bill in the restaurant and, have bottles of champagne delivered to his room, and we always believed him, despite the fact that he was already having a little bit of a problem with my front desk about how he was going to pay his bill.”

John’s con forced Elizabeth into bankruptcy

After a five-day stay, Kerns stiffed the hotel for about $3,000.

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.

Elizabeth described how Kern wrote her a personal check drawn on a bank in Italy for 11 million lira, nearly $8,000:

“At the time, I was nervous about it. And the first question out of my family and friends when I told them was, ‘Did you give him any money?’ At first I lied and I said, ‘Oh, no, no.’ And then once the check cleared, I said, ‘See, it was fine. Yes, I did give him some money, but now the check has cleared and I have the money back.'”

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.   Elizabeth said she never dreamed he would use the card to drain her account:

“I didn’t really check up on him. I could have gone through his things, but I didn’t. I just continued to try and believe in him.”

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:

“I realized some of the numbers that I called were other women. He had been romancing other women while he was in Manhattan.   I had been taken.   He hadn’t been in love with me. He was just using me. I just felt awful.”

Nearly a year after Elizabeth deposited the check from Kern, the bank in Italy reversed payment.   The check had bounced after all.   Police said that Kern swindled some $15,000 from Elizabeth, forcing her into bankruptcy.

Later, in London, Jonathan Kern allegedly conned a well known fashion executive out of 10,000 British pounds.   When she called the police, he fled once again and is still wanted by authorities.

Watch this case now 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. Anonymous

    Additional link about his father with a paragraph about the con man from 2003 – Good insight to his family.

    Another con he is running as of 12/3/2009

    From 2005…….


  2. Anonymous Link to story about him being captured in France…. Doesn’t show date. Link to CNN story in 2009 about a US victim traveling to France to testify against him.

    I cannot find any other info about prosecution or sentencing.


  3. AhYes

    Google his name and a vintage coin site comes up. Another result is his youtube account in regards to the Shellshock company, but hasn’t had a new video in 3 years.