AG warns of scam involving tobacco settlement deal

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FRANKFORT, Ky —  A new scam is reported to be making the rounds in Kentucky, this one involving the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

According to Attorney General Andy Beshear, his office has identified misleading online ads and scam emails, claiming Kentuckians, even if they never used tobacco, can receive thousands of dollars in tax-free monthly payments directly from the MSA, if they pay $5 per month or up to $100 per year to learn how.  

“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 are used to boost investments in agriculture and help improve health outcomes.”

Those who respond to the ads ultimately pay for information on how to purchase out-of-state bonds.  He said the purchase of a bond is an investment and risks and benefits associated with any investment should be carefully investigated.

The MSA, reached between the four largest tobacco companies in the U. S. and attorneys general of 46 states, provides annual payments to the states, ultimately worth more than $208 billion, to help states compensate for the medical costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses.

Kentucky has now collected more than $2 billion since the first payment in 1999 and is on pace to receive 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.  Other MSA funds support early childhood education, health programs and cancer research.  

Beshear said he doesn’t want Kentuckians to be duped by ads that prey upon the nearly 20 years of positive impact the settlement funds have had in the state.

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