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Manti Te'o Hoax Woman in Cemetery Pic Denies Connection

1/18/2013 6:20 AM PST

Manti Te'o Girlfriend Hoax -- Woman in Cemetery Photo Denies Connection


Donna Tei
-- whose picture was used as part of the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax -- says she and her family have never met the Notre Dame star and have no idea how she got roped into the scam. 

As TMZ first reported, a Notre Dame superfan (who we're calling "Jan") says she struck up an online friendship with a person claiming to be U'ilani Rae Kekua -- the older sister of Te'o's dead "girlfriend," Lennay Kekua.

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."

But the woman in the photo couldn't have been U'ilani -- 'cause U'ilani doesn't really exist.

TMZ tracked down the actual woman in the photo -- Donna Tei -- who lives in Carson, CA. When we asked Donna and her father if they had a connection to Te'o, he told us, "We don't even know the guy."

Tei's father went on to explain the photo is of his daughter, Donna, and his wife. He claims the pic was stolen off of Facebook.

So how -- and why -- did "Lennay" decide to steal Donna's cemetery pics? We would ask Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, but he seems to have gone into hiding.

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