Scam Alert: Fraudsters Use Promise of Tobacco Settlement Funds to Con Consumers

The scammers entice consumers with the idea of ongoing tax-free monthly payments of $2,300 from tobacco revenue bonds

Scam Alert: Fraudsters Use Promise of Tobacco Settlement Funds to Con Consumers
Image: Pixabay
June 21, 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, scammers are trying to lure in potential victims by claiming that they can receive some of that settlement money.

According to an alert issued by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, this online scam involves fraudsters tricking consumers into believing that they are eligible to receive ongoing tax-free monthly payments of $2,300—money that allegedly comes from tobacco revenue bonds.

The fine print reveals that, in order to learn how to get the money, the consumer must first purchase a subscription to a newsletter. 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. Once signed up for the subscription, consumers may find it difficult to cancel or get a refund.

Under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, funding goes to 46 States, 5 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The agreement contains no provisions for money to go to individuals.

Don't let a scam artist trick you into paying for worthless information about money that you'll never see. If you believe that you've been targeted by this scam—or any such con—report it to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.