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Watch out for fake ads promising $10 billion settlement payout

There are no limits on how low scammers will sink to reel in new victims. We recently warned you about an elaborate delivery scheme involving fraudulent purchases made with stolen credit cards.

That’s just one example of how devious criminals can be. The latest scam popping up on social media sites like Facebook is so convincing that a substantial number of people are falling for it.

What’s the latest scam making the rounds?

We’re talking about misleading ads popping up online and on social media sites. The ads claim that you could be eligible to receive monthly payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1998.

The MSA was a settlement for a lawsuit brought by 46 states in the U.S. against the tobacco industry. The agreement requires tobacco companies to pay roughly $10 billion annually to the 46 states and the District of Columbia perpetually.

The misleading ads seem to be targeting retirees and claim to offer individuals a “tax-free portion of this settlement.” Consumers are told they are guaranteed to receive $2,300 every month, tax-free, forever.

Warning! These ads are a scam.

How the scam works is, in order for you to receive the payments, you must first sign up for a “Private Briefing membership.” It’s basically a subscription to a newsletter that costs between $5 and $130 every month. It’s promoted by an investment advice company named Monday Morning.

The fact is, individuals are not eligible to receive money from the MSA. The settlement requires tobacco companies to pay states, not individuals. So if you see anything claiming you could be eligible to receive funds from the settlement, it’s not true.

How to report this scam

Attorneys general from several states are warning people about the scam. They are asking anyone who sees one of these misleading ads to report it.

You need to forward any information you have received dealing with this MSA scam to the consumer protection division of your state’s attorney general’s office. Click here to find your state’s AG contact information.

The Public Health Law Center has created a webpage with an overview of this scam. Click here for more information.

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