Bellevue woman says she endured prank similar to Manti Te'o's

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 1:53 AM

Christy remembers falling in love with a man she met in a Yahoo chat room.

"It was back in September in my senior year in college," she said. “They end up being there for you, giving you advice and you can talk to them uninhibitedly.”

The 34-year-old Bellevue woman asked us not to reveal her identity. She told us she repeatedly tried to meet him in person.

"I'd get there, I wouldn't hear from him,” said Christy. “He wasn't there. I would even show his picture around. The red flags, even though they were there, they became more prominent.”

Embarrassed and humiliated, Christy broke off the relationship. Then he called months later, claiming he was dying. Somehow she believed him.

"I did. I went back through it all over again!”

Later she tried finding his family in a Chicago suburb, even an obit confirming his death.

But she found nothing.

All of it is eerily similar to the Manti Te’o hoax. The Notre Dame football player, suffering from the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend in the same 24 hours, led his team to the BCS national championship.

Now we know the girlfriend never existed. The two allegedly had an online relationship, and didn't meet face to face. The story leaves many asking was it just a cruel joke on Te’o or was the Heisman trophy finalist in on it?

The prank is called “catfishing” and is the subject of an MTV show..

The sports website Deadspin.com reports the Te'o prankster is likely a family friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.   According to Deadspin.com, he is a cousin “from an older generation” of the famed football family in the Seattle area. None of them could be reached for comment.

"He supposedly gotten some other guys suckered into this fake relationship,” said Tim Burke, of Deadspin.com.

Whatever you believe, Christy cautions not to rush to judgment.

"Years and years, I'm still affected by it,” she said. “I know [Te’o] will be too and it's really sad this can happen to someone so vulnerable.”

 

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