Attorney General warns of tobacco scam

July 24, 2017

Online ads, emails claim Kentuckians can receive thousands in monthly income


Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning about a scam that claims Kentuckians can receive tax-free, monthly payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

Beshear said his office has identified misleading online ads and received reports of scam emails claiming Kentuckians can receive monthly payments directly from the multibillion-dollar MSA. The solicitations proclaim Kentuckians, even if they “never used tobacco,” can receive thousands of dollars each month if they pay $5 a month or up to $100 a year to learn how.

Beshear said he does not want Kentuckians to be duped by ads that prey upon the nearly 20 years of positive impact the settlement funds have had in the Commonwealth.

“The ads and emails try to trick Kentuckians into believing something that is simply not true,” Beshear said. “MSA payments are made directly to states and territories, and in Kentucky they are used to boost investments in agriculture and help improve health outcomes.”
Individuals can potentially receive MSA funds through state programs or private lawsuits. Nevertheless, those who respond to the ads ultimately pay for information to learn how to purchase out-of-state bonds.

Beshear said the purchase of a bond is an investment, and Kentuckians should carefully investigate risks and benefits associated with any investment.

The MSA, reached between the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S. and attorneys general from 46 states, provides annual payments to the states ultimately worth more than $208 billion.

The funds help to compensate states for some of the medical costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses.

Since the first payment in 1999, Kentucky has collected over $2 billion, and is on pace to collect nearly $3 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement.

Kentucky’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee administers the determinations on grant applications from the agricultural fund, which aids farmers and creates sustainable farm-based businesses. Additional MSA revenues support early childhood education, health programs and cancer research.

Better protecting Kentucky families, especially seniors, from fraud is one of the core missions of Beshear’s office.

Kentuckians interested in staying ahead of scammers can sign up to receive Scam Alerts from Beshear’s office by texting the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or visit ag.ky.gov/scams to sign up with your mobile phone number or email address.

To report scams to the Office of the Attorney General call 888-432-9257 or file a consumer complaint online.