Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o had the sympathy of the world when he spun a tale of how he overcame the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend who died on the same day -- but all that pity went up in smoke when the story turned out to be a dirty rotten lie.

Now information is coming in that the whole hoax was created by one Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a previously unknown guy whose quest for fame predated the scandal when he auditioned for 'The Voice.'

"He had this insane sob story before [he sang]," a source told Us Weekly. "It would make for great TV."

As Tuiasosopo allegedly told producers, he started a Christian rock band with his cousins and they were on their way to perform at a youth conference in Nevada when they were in a horrific car accident and everyone miraculously survived -- an incident many now suspect never happened.

Before going on the program, Ronaiah managed to pass a "background check and psych evaluation," a surprising requirement for all reality show stars. (Which means at some point, someone decided Heidi Montag and those chicks on 'Teen Mom' were actually mentally stable.)

According to the source, "Nothing came up, no suspicious behavior,” although based on recent allegations that he helped Manti Te'o or just punked him in the mother of all punks, he'll probably never be able to say anything again without everyone assuming it's a lie.

Regardless, Tuiasosopo's story wasn't enough to sway 'The Voice' judges. The swivel chairs occupied by Usher, Shakira, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine stayed motionless during his audition -- so he and his flaming pants were sent packing.