Jonathan Kern defrauds businesses and individuals while impersonating race car driver Jonathan Palmer.
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:
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:
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:
Elizabeth said that she thought the whole affair was almost too good to be true:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.