The real-life pretty face of Manti Te’o‘s totally fake dead girlfriend belongs to Diane O’Meara, a 23-year-old marketing coordinator who says she was oblivious to scam — even though her face appeared on national television. She says her photos were stolen to create the bogus persona of “Lennay Kekua,” the Heisman candidate’s imaginary lover whose imaginary death made for one of the greatest stories in sports.
But Lennay turned out to be the biggest fraud since Lance Armstrong, and now O’Meara is in the spotlight. Who is this beauty and why is her mug in the middle of this epic hoax? Here’s what you should know.
1. She Went to School with the Suspected Hoaxer
The Atlantic Wire reported that O’Meara is a former high school classmate of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, Te’o’s friend and the man said to be behind the whole hoax.
2. Her Facebook Photos Were Used
O’Meara’s Facebook profile photos were used to show the face of Teo’o’s fake girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. The photo shown above was allegedly used by Tuiasosopo, who duped Te’o into thinking that this was actually his deceased girlfriend. The Daily Mail reported that Tuiasosopo contacted O’Meara and told her his cousin had been involved in a car crash. He obtained her photos when he asked her to send him pictures of her showing support by holding up a sign saying “MSMK.” He then told O’Meara that her photo would be used in a photo tribute slideshow for his cousin. She didn’t even bother to ask him what “MSMK” meant. The photo ended up on Kekua’s fake Twitter profile.
3. She Says She Just Found Out about the Hoax
O’Meara says she just found out about the ongoing scam last week when a reporter from Deadspin first notified her of the whole ordeal. Te’o was supposedly “dating” his Lennay for nearly a year before learning about her “death,” which means O’Meara was also his “girlfriend” for that entire time period.
4. Her Photos Were Shown All Over National TV
Before the scandal became public, O’Meara’s photos were shown during Te’o’s football games and during an interview he did with CBS This Morning. The interview can be viewed above. This makes it even harder to believe that she had no idea about the hoax. Not that we don’t believe her; it’s just hard to believe.
5. She Has A Career in Marketing
As seen on her LinkedIn profile page, O’Meara currently works as a marketing coordinator for the School Transportation News Media Group in Los Angeles. She also makes her current residence in Los Angeles.
6. Her LinkedIn Page Speaks Highly of Her Strong Online Experience
O’Meara’s LinkedIn profile page lists her many skills in the marketing and online marketing fields. Her summary states that she has “strong experience of marketing (digital and out of home formats), promotion, and event planning; fashion retail management; and professional/government office experience.” Her stressing of her strong social media presence and experience makes it painfully ironic that she was unaware of the hoax being concocted with her social media photos.
7. She Actually Has a Real Twitter Page
Her Twitter handle is @dianeomeara. However, her tweets are currently protected. Her description reads, “most driven person you’ll meet, literally. diaries of a commuting queen.”
8. Her Photos Appeared on Kekua’s Fake Twitter Account
The false Twitter account made for Lennay Kekua, @LoveMSNK, included real photos from O’Meara’s private Facebook and Instagram account.
9. She’s The Latest Victim of “Catfishing”
O’Meara is one of the latest individuals caught in a “catfishing” scam, which entails people creating fake online profiles in order to pursue romantic relationships. Catfish movie director Ariel Schulman spoke to Good Morning America and told them he believes “a few other people were duped by the fake Lennay character.”
10. She Was The Homecoming Princess of Her High School
RumorFix.com reported that O’Meara, who looks like beauty queen material, was homecoming princess of her high school.