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A Canadian student who tried to flog the domain name "tsunamirelief.com" for $50,000 on eBay was only trying to raise relief funds, his mother claims.

Josh Kaplan, 20, was accused of trying to cash in on the disaster and dubbed a "wave rat" by the New York Post yesterday. The domain was initially registered by freelance journalist Michelle Tirado, who donated it to Kaplan in the belief that he represented an international fund-raising effort. She had offered the domain for sale on eBay for $99.99 prior to handing it over to Kaplan and closing the auction on 27 December.

Kaplan reinstated the auction - offering to sell the domain for bids in excess of $50,000 - and promising to donate any proceeds from the auction to tsunami relief. Tirado became suspicious that the auction was fraudulent - for one thing it failed to follow eBay's rules for a charitable listing - and cried foul.

Linda Kaplan told Reuters that her son's intentions were honorable. "It was all a gross misunderstanding," she said. Josh was deciding whether to continue with the auction or return to domain to Tirado before news of the listing hit the headlines. Following negative publicity, Kaplan junior voluntarily cancelled the auction. ®

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