Fake Girlfriend Duped Others Before Manti Te’o, Report Finds

A fake girlfriend may have duped others before famously fooling Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, a new report suggests.

After a Deadspin article published this week blew open the story about Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend, it appeared to many that Te’o himself was behind the hoax. The inspirational story of the death of fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua was created as a way to boost his Heisman Trophy odds, they said.

But new evidence suggests that Kennay was not invented by Teo, and that the fake girlfriend duped others before him. The Deadspin article suggested that Te’o’s acquaintance, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, came up with the Kekua character.

Another piece of evidence came earlier this week, when Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia said he actually met Kekua in 2011, ESPN noted.

“This was before her and Manti,” Mauia said. “I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa.”

Catfish movie director and actor Ariel Schulman told Good Morning America today that he believes fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua duped others as well. Ariel and his brother Nev Schulman said they’ve been in touch other other players involved, many of whom admitted to corresponding with someone claiming to be Kekua.

Nev Sculman would know. He was the subject of the 2010 movie Catfish, in which he developed a relationship with an internet predator — known as a “catfish” — who turned out to have created an entirely fake persona.

“I stand by the guy. My heart goes out to him,” Ariel Schulman said.

“He had his heart broken,” Schulman added. “He was grieving for someone, whether she existed or not. Those were real feelings.”

Evidence that the fake girlfriend duped others was strengthened on Friday, when ESPN reported that a friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo claimed that Tuiasosopo confessed to coming up with the scheme on his own.