Marketing Executive, 23, Horrified That Hoaxers Used Her Picture as Face of Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend
The woman who Manti Te'o thought was his girlfriend is an unsuspecting marketing executive who lives in Los Angeles, it was revealed today.
Diane O’Meara, 23, was 'shocked' to find out that pictures off her Facebook page had been turned into fake Twitter profile for Te’o’s non-existent girlfriend Lennay Kekua.
She only found out about the scam when a reporter from Deadspin.com contacted her last week - but by then she had been Te’o’s ‘girlfriend’ for almost a year.
Fake and original: The picture used by the hoaxers as the face of Lennay Kekua, left, was taken from this original photograph of Diane O'Meara, 23, a marketing executive living in Los Angeles
Fake: The Twitter account of Lennay Kekua with Diane's pictures has been exposed as completely false
Innocent: Diane was apparently unsuspecting of the scam - and is 'shocked' to find her face as that of Lennay
Joker: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, right, is the key suspect behind the hoax. He knew both Diane and Manti Te'o
In another twist, O’Meara was drawn into the scam despite saying she has ‘strong experience’ with Internet advertising and is professionally competent with social media.
That somebody whose job involves such work on the Internet could be so completely duped illustrates the chilling ease with which the entire scam has been carried out.
Speaking to the New York Post, O’Meara’s relatives told of their horror at what had happened.
Olga Volkov said that O’Meara was a ‘good person’ from a ‘good family’.
She said: ‘Somebody stole her identity.
‘(O’Meara’s family) found out about it yesterday. They were shocked’.
Inspiration: Te'o used the memory of Lennay Kekua to drove him to victory and create a myth that captivated the nation but any role he may have had in the hoax is now questioned
Write caption here
Shocked: Friends of O'Meara say she only found out yesterday she was the most famous woman in America right now
Te’o’s tragic story about his girlfriend won his a groundswell of public support last September as Notre Dame was heading into crunch games for the BCS championships.
Kekua supposedly died around September 12 from leukemia after recovering from a near fatal car crash - just six hours after his grandmother passed away.
Among those that paid tribute to Kekua was CBS which showed a picture of her on This Morning with a direct quote she has supposedly said to Te’o: ‘Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you'll stay there and you'll play and you'll honour me through the way you play.’
Next to it was a picture of Kekua - but it was actually O’Meara.
When Deadspin contacted O’Meara she said: ‘That picture is a picture of me from my Facebook account.’
Memories: A picture of Kekua, now known to be Diane, was shown on CBS during an interview with Te'o, when he talked about her 'death'
Driven crazy: Diane works in marketing at the School Tranportation News in LA
All the other photos used on Kekua’s Twitter account came from the private Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to O’Meara, apart from one, which she unwittingly sent to former high-school classmate of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who is also a friend of Te’o and supposedly the man behind the whole hoax.
According to Deadspin, Tuiasosopo got in touch with her out of the blue some time ago with a rather convoluted story.
He said his cousin had been hurt in a car crash and that he wanted to get her show support by sending her pictures of people he knew holding up a sign saying ‘MSMK’, which he planned to show her as a slide show.
O’Meara obliged - only to later find the picture on Kekua’s @Love MSMK Twitter profile.
O’Meara’s Internet profiles suggest that she is a world removed from the lying and scheming that was involved in pulling off this elaborate plot.
Photos on her social media profiles show her relaxing with friends, out partying and sitting on the beach in a bikini.
On her Twitter page she writes that she is: ‘The most driven person you'll meet, literally. Diaries of a commuting queen’
Twitter: On her Twitter profile she says she's the 'most driven person you'll meet, literally'
O’Meara attended California State University at Long Beach and graduated in 2011 with a B.S in Business Administration and Business.
She now works for STN Media Group in Los Angeles and lives in the Torrance neighbourhood.
Her LinkedIn profile says she has strong experience at ‘event planning; fashion retail management; and professional/government office experience’.
She also says she is ‘competent in web design and maintenance’ including ‘e-mail marketing, social media, and blogs.’
O’Meara declined to speak to reporters and said: ‘Right now, I’m not making any comment’.
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