Manti Te’o Was One of Several Duped in Hoax
(NEW YORK) — The man who allegedly orchestrated the Lennay Kekua hoax on Manti Te’o may have used the character to dupe other prominent members of the community, a source told ABC News.
Tessi Toluta’u, a Polynesian beauty queen, said the fake Lennay Kekua reached out to her in 2008 about entering pageants. Although Toluta’u said she believed Kekua may have fabricated some details about her life, she still believed her to be real and kept in touch with her for a period of several months.
When visiting Los Angeles in 2009, Toluta’u was supposed to meet Kekua, however she failed to appear. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who Te’o said confessed to the hoax, met Toluta’u instead.
They went to a Polynesian dance practice and lunch, and that was the end of their correspondence, she said.
“[It’s a] sick joke that went way too far,” she said.
Toluta’u said she believes Te’o was one of four or five people who were duped into believing Kekua was real.
The script for the elaborate hoax played on Te’o, from a horrific car accident to a leukemia diagnosis, according to reports, had parallels to the alleged perpetrator’s life.
In December, three months after the fictional Kekua was killed off, the alleged orchestrator of the hoax, Tuiasoposo, called Te’o to confess it was all a sham, the Notre Dame football star told ESPN.
Also on the line, he said, was Kekua, the woman whom he spent hours talking to on the phone and once called the love of his life.
“They said, ‘It’s Lennay’. And so we carried on that conversation and I just got mad. And I just went on a rampage,” Te’o said.
The woman, whose voice he fell asleep to at night on the phone, may have been a fabrication, but the alleged script used to fool Te’o seemed to mirror Tuiasoposo’s reality.
Tuiasoposo’s father posted on Facebook that his son and his band survived a severe car accident last March.
And at the same time the fake Kekua was diagnosed with leukemia, Tuiasoposo’s cousin, Jazmine Lutu, also in her early 20s, was battling the disease, USA Today reported.
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