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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

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Previous 15 Comments | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
121.

kdhfakdl;    

why the hell is the little girls face shown in this photo. wow now this is involving an innocent child and exploiting her like this. she did not know what was going on...focus on ronaiah, and leave pookah alone. she's alive and never suffered from lupus.

553 days ago
122.

a long time Leno fan!    

Obviously Ronaiah is the dead girlfriend and "Lennay's" picture is a photoshopped, "slim" Ronaiah. Clearly Manti "ended" a relationship with Ronaiah, shifting Ronaiah's sex from female to male to satisfy a still largely unaccepting society of gay people. This was WAY too easy to figure out, people. And then Manti thought his family member AND his supposed "girlfriend's" deaths would go away bundled together. signed, Lt. Columbo :D

553 days ago
123.

a long time Leno fan!    

ooops!
Obviously Ronaiah is the dead girlfriend and "Lennay's" picture is a photoshopped, "slim" Ronaiah. Clearly Manti "ended" a relationship with Ronaiah, shifting Ronaiah's sex from MALE to FEMALE to satisfy a still largely unaccepting society of gay people. This was WAY too easy to figure out, people. And then Manti thought his family member AND his supposed "girlfriend's" deaths would go away bundled together. signed, Lt. Columbo :D

553 days ago
124.

Pax    

And the plot thickens! This is worse than daytime soap opera. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Will it be fake pictures of Manti and gf kissing, their actual phone script, more characters claiming to have met the fake girlfriend, Ronaiah was a stalker, and was secretly in loved with Manti. ENOUGH!

553 days ago
125.

tee    

The girl in this cemetery picture IS NOT even close to looking like the girlfriend. The woman whos picture is up as his girlfriend is Diane O'Meara! This article is so wrong!

552 days ago
126.

tee    

The girl in this cemetery picture IS NOT even close to looking like the girlfriend. The woman whos picture is up as his girlfriend is Diane O'Meara! This article is so wrong!

552 days ago
127.

d    

They need to get CATFISH involved lol they find everything out down to who's behind the fake account... My bet is the girl in the PIC is involved...

552 days ago
128.

Barbz    

The psyco sneak Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has been hideing behind his computer for years. He confesses online, yet he refuses to make the confession in public? It's time for the little weasel to stop hiding in his house, he cannot hide forever. The journalist hounds will be on his trail, and eventually they will get him. Lol, unless he joins the foriegn legion?

551 days ago
129.

Christa    

I don't know why you r all having such a hard time understanding how Manti ended up in this situation...haven't you heard of Catfishing? this sort of thing happens to many many people every day!

548 days ago
130.

Mondo    

Has anyone noticed that this guy is wearing a USC Trojan colored scarf ? Coincidence... Notre Dame beat the Trojans this year. Also back in the day USC had a fulback with the same last name his name was Mosi Tuiasosopo and a Raider QB named Markus who played at University of Washington . Motive might be jelousy. I'm just saying...

548 days ago
131.

KCINDY    

Alot of zestyness going on bro..lol

546 days ago
132.

KCINDY    

He is either a pervert or gay! College football players have a steady they cheat on. Or they are trying to do chicks two at a time! Red blooded American males....healthy young male behavior...lol

546 days ago
133.

Jenny/T.Bay, Ont/Canada     

WAKE UP & SMELL THE COFFEE YOU FOOLS!!! Have you STILL NOT read up on the dozens/hundreds of people that have been CATFISHED??? Even DR. PHIL had CATFISH stories on his TV show yesterday, Thurs. Jan.24/13!!! WHEN are YOU GOING TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK & STOP ACTING AS IF MANTI IS the FIRST PERSON to get scammed by - CATFISHED on the Internet!!! AND HOW DID WE JUMP FROM MANTI BEING CATFISHED to him being GAY??? There is absolutely NO CONNECTION, Katie C. is a FOOL!!!

545 days ago
134.

Derrick    

Dr. Phil asked Tuiasosopo if he were gay. Is Manti Teo gay? He could be. Read more at
http://the-nba-insider.blogspot.com/2013/01/is-mante-teo-gay.html

539 days ago
135.

fgddf    

Timing is important when it comes to finding a car accident lawyer. The longer you put off speaking to a legal practitionermulti diag, the more difficult it may become to prove the case or to receive financial compensation for your suffering. There is a statute of limitations on cases involving motor vehicle crashes and it is not the same in every state.@link-xy

449 days ago
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