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AG Ferguson warns of tobacco settlement scam

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A new online ad promises big bucks to consumers after a massive tobacco settlement.  But Attorney General Bob Ferguson says don’t fall for it.

The $206 billion tobacco master settlement agreement was made almost 20 years ago and affected 46 states, including Washington.  But now, a new pop-up ad is promising $2,300 a month for life from that deal if you pay between $79 and $129.

“It’s a scam. Pure and simple,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the ad uses a small amount of truth from the settlement to cash in.  The money went to states to settle lawsuits filed against tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related healthcare costs.

“There is no money for individuals at this time,” Ferguson explained.  “They have a kernel of truth and they prey upon that.”

Ferguson said the ad asks for consumers’ personal information, including their credit card numbers.  Ferguson also expects the ad to grow and evolve from a pop-up to something more targeted and dangerous.

“I think we will see this in emails, Facebook, you name it.  It will be around,” Ferguson said.

The scam ad also uses a quote from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman saying big tobacco must pay.  But it’s actually the other way around.  If you sign up, you will be the one paying.

“Folks aren’t entitled to that.  They are not going to get it,” Ferguson said.  “They’ll be out of their money if they do this.”

Consumers who have received these advertisements can file a complaint at http://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.

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