Online ad that guarantees tax-free payments are a scam…
The Attorney General’s Office has received numerous inquiries about advertisements telling consumers that they can sign up to receive payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. This is a scam. Individuals are not eligible to receive payments from the Master Settlement Agreement.
The online advertisements say that consumers can receive “guaranteed” tax-free payments of $2,300 every month — forever. The catch is that, in order to learn how to supposedly claim a portion of the tobacco settlement, consumers must purchase a subscription that costs anywhere from $79 to $129. The order form asks consumers for their personal information and a credit card number. The Attorney General warns consumers that once they provide a credit card number, it may be difficult to cancel and obtain a refund.
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was finalized among the four largest U.S. tobacco companies, 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. The settlement resolved lawsuits against the tobacco companies for tobacco-related health care costs incurred by the states. The settlement does not provide for payments to individuals, though some states, including Washington, issued bonds backed by the settlement agreement payments as investment opportunities.
Consumers who have received these advertisements may file a complaint at http://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.