Real Name: Jonathan Nigel-Philip Kern
Aliases: Jonathan Palmer
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 1994
Details: Jonathan Kern is a con-artist and another Sweetheart Swindler who has been working since 1989. He wines and dines unsuspecting women throughout Europe, the whole time impersonating race car driver Jonathan Palmer, then robs his lady friends of money he never intends to pay back. In the process, he racks up bills and fees all in the real Palmer's name. In October 1994, he went to America and met Elizabeth Grzeszczyk at a Miami hotel. She had her doubts at first that he was Palmer, as she knew some information about him, but when she saw his passport, she was certain that he was Palmer. Another person impressed by him was a car dealer who gave him a $78,000 Jaguar free of charge to use while in town.
In fact, everyone at the hotel, including its owner, believed that Kern was Palmer. Soon, he and Elizabeth began a relationship. Then, one week later, he left without paying any of his $3000 bill. Eventually, Elizabeth invited him to come and live in her Milford, Connecticut home. At the time, she still believed that he was Palmer. He began to focus on her money, and convinced her to accept a personal check drawn on an Italian bank for $8,000. But when it cleared, her doubts subsided.
Kern often took trips to Manhattan in a $125,000 Mercedes lent to him by a local dealer, and also carried Elizabeth's ATM card. One day, he claimed that his wallet was stolen, so Elizabeth told him to use the money on the card, which he soon took all of. When he returned, Elizabeth had a change of heart and told him to leave. When she called the phone numbers on her bill, the people said they didn't know Palmer. Then, she learned that he had been romancing other women while they were together.
Finally, a year after Elizabeth's bank cleared the check from Kern, they learned that it was no good. The swindling by him cost Elizabeth $15,000, so she was forced to file bankruptcy. Authorities are certain that she was not his first, nor last victim, and that he is continuing his scam in other places. He is wanted for forgery, felony criminal impersonation, and larceny.
Extra Notes: This case first on September 27, 1996. It was also featured on America's Most Wanted.
Elizabeth later wrote the book I Fell in Love with a Con Man about it.
Results: Unresolved. In 1997, Kern was arrested in Paris, France, on fraud charges. A viewer had previously placed him there, publishing bogus magazines. Elizabeth traveled there to testify against him. He was convicted of the charges and sentenced to prison. However, he was released before he could be extradited to the United States. He still has an outstanding warrant for him in Connecticut. Elizabeth and the authorities believe that he is still involved in fraud schemes in Europe.
- Jonathan Kern on Unsolved.com
- Palmer Double Arrested for Fraud
- Hello John, got a new motor?
- Kern Son Wanted in US for Impersonating Racing Driver
- Book tells her story of being scammed
- Video of Elizabeth Grzeszczyk
- (Blog by Elizabeth Grzeszczyk) I Fell in Love with a Con Man
- (Book by Elizabeth Grzeszczyk) I Fell in Love with a Con Man