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Police probe nixes teen's tsunami effort

Misguided request for donations was made in "good faith," police say. Still, security firms are watching for phishing schemes.

No charges will be filed against a teenager behind a Web site asking for donations for the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster, according to Tasmanian police.

Jason Hutcheon, a detective senior constable, said the 19-year-old resident of Glenorchy will not face charges because the Web site had been created in "good faith." The Web site's author sincerely did not believe he was doing anything wrong and just copied the idea from a U.S. Web site, Hutcheon said.

No money was received through the Web site and no complaints were filed against the author, the constable said. He added that the teenager's PayPal account had not been authorized and so it was not possible to collect money.

The Red Cross had said earlier the teen's Web site had asked for donations, saying they would go to worldwide charity organizations to help victims of the tsunami. The teen had placed the Red Cross logo for the charity's tsunami appeal on his Web site and made references to World Vision.

Both charity organizations denied any involvement with the teen's Web site.

So far, Hutcheon said, no other online hoaxes or phishing e-mails had been detected. His comments were echoed by Rob Forsythe, managing director of antivirus company Sophos, who said his company had not yet detected any phishing e-mails associated with the tsunami disaster. He assured that Sophos was "watching this carefully."

However, some hoaxes have emerged worldwide. In Singapore, the government labeled as incorrect a mobile text message spreading throughout the country that said a "very dangerous virus called the Zulican virus" was spreading through seafood and that seafood should be avoided.

In the United Kingdom, a man was arrested for posing as a government official and e-mailing relatives of the tsunami victims saying their loved ones were dead. And a Canadian college student withdrew an eBay auction for the domain name after the New York Post dubbed him a "wave rat" and suggested he was trying to profit from disaster.

Meanwhile, online giving to charities to aid in tsunami relief has been strong. Software maker Kintera, which provides technology to nonprofit organizations, on Monday estimated that more than $350 million had been donated in the preceding week.

In the Australian incident, Hutcheon said the 19-year-old created the Web site as a fund-raising effort to find his uncle, who is missing in Thailand after the Christmas weekend disaster.

John Gilbert, Tasmanian police acting detective inspector, said that the teen had agreed to put up an apology on his Web site and that he will receive an "official caution."

Kristyn Maslog-Levis of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney. CNET staff and Reuters contributed to this report.