• March 2, 2024

MSA scam alert

 MSA scam alert

At least two US state attorneys general have issued warnings about an online promotion that wrongly suggests people are entitled to receive tobacco settlement money.

The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a settlement reached between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and attorneys general from 46 states and territories under which the tobacco companies agreed to pay the states $206 billion during the first 25 years of the agreement. There is no provision for payments to individuals.

In alerting people to the deception, West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the online promotion misled consumers into believing they could receive tobacco settlement money.

The online promotion claimed individuals could sign up for the MSA agreement, he said. But despite the promotion’s assertion, there was no mechanism for payments to consumers. Payments were made each year to the states and territories.

“Everyone likes the idea of obtaining extra money,” said Morrisey. “It’s very important to ensure that promotions seeking or promising money are legitimate.”

According to a statement issued by Morrisey, the promotion misled the consumer by talking about bond purchases backed by settlement money, rather than guidance on how to receive settlement dollars.

‘The end goal involves a pitch for consumers to buy a subscription to a monthly report in order to learn more,’ the statement said. ‘Subscribers are charged approximately $5 for the first month and $100 for a one-year subscription. It is difficult to cancel once an individual provides their credit card information.’

Meanwhile, the day after Morrisey made his statement, Nevada’s Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt issued a similar warning, telling Nevadans of a ‘recent set of deceptive advertisements related to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement’. ‘These advertisements mislead consumers into believing they are eligible to receive tobacco settlement money,’ he said.

‘The online advertisements lead consumers to believe that they can claim thousands of dollars per month from the tobacco settlement through a special program. The advertisement, which promises a tax-free portion of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, misleads consumers into believing they are eligible for guaranteed money backed by the government.’