Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Almost 20 years ago, the major tobacco companies agreed to a “Master Settlement” with state and local governments. The agreement, which has pumped billions of dollars into anti-smoking campaigns and other efforts to improve health, has also helped recover the cost of treating tobacco-related diseases. Now, crooks are trying to lure potential victims by claiming that they can receive some of that settlement money.In this online scam, fraudsters say that consumers can receive ongoing tax-free monthly payments of $2,300. The money is allegedly generated by tobacco revenue bonds. The fine print reveals that in order to learn how to get the money, a subscription to a newsletter must be purchased. The cost for this subscription can be anywhere from $5 to $129 for the first month, and the online form includes a place to enter a credit card number. But once they’ve signed up, consumers may find it difficult to cancel their subscription or get a refund.Under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, funding goes to 46 States, 5 territories and the District of Columbia. The agreement contains no provisions for money to go to individuals.Don’t let crooks trick you into signing up to receive worthless information about money you’ll never see. If you encounter this or any other scam, you can report it to Attorney General Josh Stein’s Consumer Protection Division online or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.