The Matt Bandy Story
A Nightmare Before Christmas
By Jonathan Bernstein
Author's Note: Your home computer could, as you're reading this, contain child pornography or other illegal material. It could have been placed there by criminals who have turned your computer into a "zombie" which they control at their whim. It could have gotten there via simple, innocent mistakes that millions of computer users make every day.
Worse, under many existing laws, you could go to prison for what is found on your computer, even if you didn't put it there.
This is not the Twilight Zone. This is the real deal. I'm a former Army counter-intelligence operative and investigative reporter. I have 25 years of experience in crisis management public relations. I know how to tell when a source is truthful, when a story has journalistic merit, and when a client is trying to do the right thing versus attempting any sort of cover-up.
The reason I know that our home computers are all at high risk is a kid named Matt Bandy. A kid accused of a horrible crime he didn't commit, and which he didn't have to tell you about at all. Let me tell you Matt's story.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
At 6 am on Thursday morning, December 16, 2004, Matt then age 16 was getting ready to go to school, as was his younger sister. His mom, Jeanne, was coming down the stairs when she saw shadowy figures coming up their walk, to the Bandy's front door, where they started pounding.
"This is the police, open up!"
After the officers showed their IDs to Jeanne through the window, she let them in.
"There were about ten police. They made me and my kids go outside where we huddled together, frightened. The police asked if we had any guns in the house and I said we didn't own any. They asked if there was anyone else in the house and I told them yes, my husband, Greg, who was asleep upstairs with earplugs in. They pulled Greg (an emergency room physician) out of bed at gunpoint."
Eventually, the police made it clear to The Bandys that they had a search warrant for their home. The lead detective from the Police Department said that child pornography had allegedly been uploaded to a specific Yahoo Group from an IP address (a unique identifying code) associated with The Bandys' computer. Yahoo apparently reports such events to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which then passes the information on to law enforcement serving the region from which the images seem to originate. "Seem" being the operative word, as you'll come to understand later in this article.
Jeanne and Greg had no idea what the detective was talking about, but Matt ruefully admitted that he had participated in a Yahoo Group for the purpose of viewing Playboy-like adult images. He was asked what username he had employed and he provided that information, which was apparently similar to but not the same as the name the police said had been used to upload child porn. He adamantly denied ever viewing images that in any way could be construed as child pornography.
An officer from the local County Attorney's office set about conducting a preliminary examination of the computer in The Bandy's home. To their shock and dismay, he reported that he found a number of child porn images and traces of the email address used to upload the pics.
"We were speechless," said Jeanne. "That was when our nightmare began." Read More
Judge For Yourself
Highlights of Bandy Computer Forensic, Polygraph & Psych Exams
A leading computer forensic science expert, Tami Loehrs of Loehrs & Associates (formerly Law2000), examined the Bandy family computer in order to find out what, if any, viruses, Trojans, malware or system hacking took place on their system.
Upon Ms. Loehrs’ review, she noted that the user login accounts on the computer were the Windows XP default accountseveryone who used the Bandy computer logged into the computer by using the "Owner" account. Using one master account for the computer makes it difficult to prove who was at the computer at any time, which computer expert Ted Coombs discusses here.
The Bandy computer was inundated with malicious software infections. Ms. Loehrs located over 200 infected files, one of which renamed so many computer files that it was impossible to detect or track all of the malicious activity on the computer. Just a few of the serious infections Ms. Loehrs noted include... Read More
Be Sure To Read These!
Why Current Child Porn Laws Imprison the Wrong People
Thomas, Aubuchon to be stripped of legal licenses
NY case underscores Wi-Fi privacy dangers
FBI Porn Raid Leaves Innocent Family Reeling
Taxpayers to Continue Footing Bill for Andrew Thomas Defense
Cleaning up Thomas's mess: Rose Wilcox case dismissed
Investigator to recommend disbarment in Thomas ethics case
Is your computer a zombie?
How to fix your zombie computer
Why many home users need a zombie-PC fix — but don't know it
Are You In Danger, Too?
How Your Computer Can Be Turned Into A Zombie and You Could End Up In Prison
News coverage and expert testimony available on the Internet document just how easy it is for families like The Bandys to have a computer infected with viruses, backdoor software and Trojan horses. Those of us involved in creating this website wonder if the investigating authorities are aware of this information because, if they were, we think they would have been hard-pressed to pursue a case against Matt Bandy. One expert we interviewed reports detection of 250,000 new "zombies" every day! Read More
How You Can Help Protect|
Yourself and Your Children
A computer forensics expert once estimated that 90 percent of all computers may contain illegal material up to and including child pornography.
How could that be? The fact is that there are many ways that child porn or other illegal materials can end up on your computer without your knowledge or intent. ...
We must be our own and our children's first line of defense against criminals in cyberspace.
The good news is that, while it does take some effort on our part, and requires constant watchfulness, it doesn't have to be painfully difficult. Read More
The Bandy Family & Supporters
(From Matt Bandy's Autobiography)
My name is Mathew George Bandy. Until I was 16, my life was normal and happy. Then police raided our family home and I was accused of terrible crimes I didn't commit.
They accused me of child pornography offenses. They threatened me with 90 years in prison all because some creep had, without my knowledge, used the Internet to plant porn on the family computer. ... Can you imagine being a happy, normal 16-year-old with a bright-looking future suddenly being told you might spend the rest of your days in prison with rapists and murderers -- all for something you didn't do and didn't even know about? Read More