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Manti Te'o Hoax

All SCAMS Lead to

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

1/17/2013 10:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0117_ronaiah_article_tmz_6
The Manti Te'o not-really-dead-girlfriend hoax was perpetuated by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo -- who served as a representative for the family of the fake "Lennay Kekua" ... and TMZ has the photo proof.

Here's what we know ...

While Manti was "dating" Lennay ... a Notre Dame die-hard fan who we'll call "Jan" (to protect her identity) reached out to Lennay on Twitter and began an online friendship.

After Lennay's supposed death, Jan became involved with a group called "Wear a Lei 4 Manti" -- in which fans wore Hawaiian leis to ND football games to show their support for the football star.

When the "Wear a Lei 4 Manti" movement began to receive media attention, Jan says she noticed she gained a Twitter follower named U'ilani Rae Kekua.

Jan tells TMZ ... she reached out to U'ilani and asked if she was related to Lennay -- to which U'ilani replied, "Yes, that's my baby sister." The two became friends.

In fact, Jan says they both mentioned how they were going to attend the Notre Dame vs. USC game in L.A. on November 24, 2012  ... so Jan sent U'ilani her cell phone number in case she wanted to meet up.

Here's where the story takes a turn ... Jan tells TMZ she got a phone call from U'ilani on the day of the game directing her to the famous Tommy Trojan statue in front of the stadium, so they could meet up.

But when Jan arrived to the statue, U'ilani was NOT there ... but guess who was -- Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.  Jan and Ronaiah even took a photo together (see above).

According to the Deadspin article, Ronaiah was the person who obtained the photo of the woman everyone believed to be Lennay ... and is suspected of having a major role in the hoax.

Jan tells us Ronaiah was with a little girl during the USC meeting who they called Pookah -- and together, they explained how Lennay's sister couldn't come down to visit, so U'ilani sent them instead. Jan says Ronaiah "made it seem as if he was a member of Lennay's family."

After Jan and Ronaiah took the picture together -- Jan says Ronaiah began to act paranoid ... and told her, "Make sure you don't post this photo online."

Soon after the game, Jan says she was contacted by U'ilani ... who also urged her NOT to post the picture of Ronaiah. She didn't explain why.

U'ilani later sent a photo to Jan showing a woman at a cemetery -- and told her, "This is me and my family at Lennay's gravesite. We're spending the day here."

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Clearly, the woman in the photo is not U'ilani ('cause she doesn't really exist) ... and some digging suggests the woman in the photo is actually a woman named Donna Tei, who doesn't seem to have a relationship with anyone involved in the hoax.

There's more ... Jan tells TMZ Lennay's "sister" continued to reach out to her after the USC game ... and delivered some more bad news -- that little Pookah had been diagnosed with lupus and was dying in a children's hospital in Orange County, CA.

Jan said she wanted to send flowers -- so Lennay's "sister" gave her an address. TMZ has learned the address belongs to a member of the Tuiasosopo family.

Jan also gave us the phone number Lennay's sister would use to contact her -- and we found out the number is registered to a man named Titus Tuiasosopo -- Ronaiah's father.

We tried to reach out to Ronaiah -- but we couldn't get a hold of him. So far, he has yet to comment to the media about the story.

For more sports stories, check out tmzsports.com!
198 COMMENTS

No Avatar
46.

ricosauve15    

????? I'm lost. I'll just wait for the VH-1 show to come out

561 days ago
47.

Simone    

But what I really want to know is...WHO CARES??? I really don't understand why this is a big story. At all.

561 days ago
48.

O-Dog2GX    

He found out about it from ND on 12/26. The school made him keep quiet.

561 days ago
49.

vix    

Sorry but I don't get the whole plot and purpose of this....like isn't there something more interesting going on in their lives than to do something so childish. Who has time for this? Doesn't he have bills to pay?

561 days ago
50.

Jen    

My theory: He is gay. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is his partner/boyfriend. They came up with this story to keep teammates, coaches etc from figuring it out. The story became bigger then they wanted and it got out of hand.

561 days ago
51.

Truth    

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA PATHETIC TO THE MAX!! SOOO POOKAH WAS U'ILANI. DUDE WANTED TO TIE THE LOOSE END OF THIS FRAUD BY "KILLING" OFF THE MAJOR PLAYERS. NO DOUBT POOKAH IS FRAUDSTER'S LITTLE SISTER, THEY LOOK F*CKING ALIKE. SO WHO PLAYED LENNAY?? FRAUDSTER'S MOM?? DUDE HASNT EVEN SIGNED AN NFL CONTRACT SO WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE--->5150 PSYCH WARD?? #TRUTH!!

561 days ago
52.

The Jones    

This article is the most confusing thing i naave ever read well done

561 days ago
53.

Jamie    

My head hurts.. Now they are killing of little innocent Pookah?! Holy Crap this is madness!

561 days ago
54.

Monica    

Huh?

561 days ago
55.

powercat1    

The family of Lennay Kekua asks that you respect their non-existence during this trying time. #MantiTeo

561 days ago
56.

Kim Davis    

Who's on first? What the? I got a headache from reading that.

561 days ago
57.

bernergirl    

So all of this happened after the girlfriend died? What about Manti te'o giving interviews he was at Lennay's bedside with the coma? Family vacations? This sounds like an after story. Hope Manti te'o brings a picture board for the press conference.

561 days ago
58.

Bu    

WHO CARES! SHEEESH!!!!

561 days ago
59.

crankyg    

All I got was a little Pookie is dying from Lupus..that's sad

561 days ago
60.

Truth    

QUESTION IS... WHY THE F*CK GO AFTER AND FRAUD THIS UNKNOWN "JAN" CHARACTER? WTF DOES SHE HAVE TO DO WITH MANTI?? DOESNT MAKE SENSE... "JAN" HAS NO INFLUENCE ON MANTI TE'O. METHINKS THIS "JAN" CHARACTER IS LYING. SHE IS LENNAY AND PART OF THIS WHOLE SCHEME AND RELATED TO THIS RONAIAH DOUCHE BAG. TMZ GOT HOOK, LINE, AND SINKERED!! #TRUTH!!

561 days ago
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