C. Thomas Thames Response to Peter Dzoghi's One-Star Reviews
I am C. Thomas Thames, and I am also known as Tom Thames, CT Thames, and Carroll Thomas Thames.
This is my response to the anonymous (One-Star) reviews that were written by Peter A. Dzoghi. It's a long story but when compared to Peter's website it's not so bad.
Some friends and clients have advised me to ignore Dzoghi's complaints because he refuses to identify the companies and products he is complaining about and because he waited over 20 years to complain. That is probably good advice but I am not built that way. I want to make it very clear that I am willing to make every word of our dispute public. The only person concealing the critical facts is Peter Dzoghi.
Peter Dzoghi is a former client who bought 5 or 6 variable annuities from me around 1990 to 1992. I can’t be specific about the dates or products because my copies of Peter’s records were destroyed several years before he posted his first negative review on Yelp. I kept them well over 10 years after he and I stopped doing business together and I had no reason to think I would ever need them again.
Peter was an investment client and he and his older brother were also my partners in an unrelated manufacturing business. We stopped doing any kind of business together around 1992 when I bought them out of the partnership. At that time, my office was in Woodbridge, CA and Peter lived about 350 miles away in Pacific Palisades. As far as I knew, we had no problems after 1992, and I had forgotten all about him until I saw his anonymous One-Star review on Yelp around 2012. He has never identified himself but I managed to figure out who he was pretty quickly.
DZOGHI’S COMPLAINT: About 20 years after Dzoghi and I stopped doing business together, he used several aliases to post anonymous reviews on Yelp, Yahoo, Google, and other places. In those reviews he accused me of recommending exchanges of variable annuities that produced commissions for me, but no additional benefits for him. And he accused me of not disclosing the surrender charges he would pay for making those exchanges. He waited 20 years to complain and then whined because the statute of limitations prevented him from filing an official complaint with the Securities and Exchange. But I believe the truth is that Dzoghi didn't file a complaint because he knew the Securities and Exchange Commission would review the insurance companies records and dismiss the case immediately. Waiting until the statue of limitations expired gave him an excuse for not filing an official complaint that would undoubtedly be dismissed; and meant that he could accuse me on the internet without having to provide proof.
MY RESPONSE: Ihave never made an investment recommendation that I didn’t believe was suitable and beneficial to the client. And I have never sold an annuity of any kind without disclosing all fees and charges. And in all my years in the business Peter Dzoghi is the only client who has ever suggested that I did.
And for anyone to say that they completed 5 or 6 separate annuity exchanges at different times, and never once noticed that they were paying surrender charges, is incredible. These were rather large annuities, and the surrender charges were substantial. A closing statement showing all fees and surrender values was provided for each annuity exchange, so it’s hard to imagine anyone overlooking the surrender charges on 5 or 6 separate transactions. In addition to the closing statements that showed how much was distributed from each of the the old annuities, the statements and contracts for the new annuities showed how much was received from the old companies. That's at least two opportunities to see what was happening for each of the 5 or 6 exchanges. The bottom line is that Peter knew he was paying those surrender charges. I told him, the prospectuses and brochures told him, and the annuity exchange documents told him.
I am not aware of any insurance company that would have allowed me to replace an annuity without justification. And they always consider surrender charges and other fees the client will have to pay. That is a standard part of the annuity exchange process, and the client must sign documents acknowledging that they are aware of the fees and charges. Probably without realizing it, Peter published documents on the internet that prove he received prospectuses that disclosed the surrender charges. When I pointed that out, he changed his story, and claimed that he should not have been expected to read them. Wrong again. He was expected to read them. And even if he didn’t, I have no doubt that he knew about all surrender charges. I always discuss them with the client, and they were disclosed in the various annuity application and replacement documents. Contrary to what Peter has claimed several times, I do not make a practice of “trading” or replacing annuities but when I do recommend an exchange I am smart enough and experienced enough to know that the replacement will be checked to ensure that it makes sense for the client. Peter Dzoghi's exchanges were checked and reviewed just like all the others. If the receiving companies had considered the exchanges inappropriate they would not or should not have accepted the business. That's the way it works.
In Peter's case I believe that there were market value adjustments (due to declining interest rates) that made the exchanges profitable for Peter, even though there were surrender charges. I believe the insurance company records would prove that, but Peter has said that he was told the variable annuities did not have a market value adjustment. I don't know who told him that or how much research they did on those old expired contracts, but I know for a fact that the variable annuities I was selling at that time did have fixed interest sub-accounts that had market value adjustment features. I know that because I had 2 or 3 other clients who made similar exchanges around that time and even though they paid surrender charges they made money on the market value adjustments. Sadly, those clients were much older than Peter Dzoghi and are no longer alive but they were all experienced investors who never complained about me not disclosing fees and surrender charges. And everyone of them knew that I was earning another commission. Peter might like to say he thought I was flying to Los Angeles to work for him pro bono, but he is smarter than that. He knew no one would believe that story.
I think it is worth noting that as of today (06/07/2021) it has been about 29 years since Dzoghi bought the variable annuities. And based on his own remarks, I believe he still owns them. He has never complained that he lost money with the annuities; in fact he has complained that he has had to pay taxes on profits he has withdrawn from the annuities. It seems that Peter is never happy. But that one is between him and the IRS. I will say that he has never accused me of telling him that he wouldn't have to pay taxes on gains and he has never accused me of actually stealing any of his money but I am not sure he wouldn't if he thought he could get away with it.
THE UNRELATED PARTNERSHIP: I think it’s important for people to know that Peter Dzoghi is not just a former investment client. He is also a former partner of mine in a totally unrelated business. Peter and his older brother were my partners in a fiberglass furniture manufacturing business that did not work out. After a few years in business, it became increasingly clear that we could not comply with new hazardous materials regulations, and closing the business was the only prudent thing to do.
I offered to sell my share of the business to Peter and his brother, but they refused, so I exercised my option to buy them out. The money I paid them was a total loss to me, because I planned to close the business as soon as I gained total control. And I did.
We all lost money in the furniture business but if I had to guess, I would say that Peter thinks that somehow I made money by buying them out. I didn't, but I believe that is the real reason Peter complained about the annuities after so many years. He had no legitimate reason to accuse me out of not disclosing all the pertinent information about the annuity exchanges but he couldn’t complain about the furniture business because he followed his brother’s advice and they were both represented by a very prominent law firm. For reasons I will probably never know, he or someone he knows got the idea that he could get even by attacking my business. He has a right to complain if he has a legitimate reason but if he had a legitimate complaint why would he refuse to allow me to know exactly what products he is complaining about? I think the answer is obvious. He knows it is a false accusation and he knows the documents will prove him wrong. By the way, I am sure his brother wasn't happy about the business closure either but he has never accused me of any wrongdoing.
Peter has also said that he paid me a consulting fee, but I have no idea what he is talking about. I suspect that he is really referring to the money he put into the furniture business, and that was certainly not a fee. We all invested money in the business and all three of us were general partners.
PARTING DIGS, JABS, AND COMMENTS: IfPeter wanted the truth to be known he would disclose the companies and products he complaining about and let the annuity applications and exchange forms speak for themselves. But facts are not what Peter is after. I don't know that it's true, but I have always thought that Peter is trying to force me to offer him a bribe to remove my name from his despicable website, but that will never happen. I can't and won't offer him any sort of reward for spreading lies and innuendos but early on I did offer to donate $5,000 to a very well known public charity for kids if he would disclose the companies and specific products he is complaining about. He refused and said the charity wouldn't want my money. Really? Well Peter, charities do take my money and I admit that I am actually sorry I made the offer to you. I should have known that since the money wasn't going to you, you wouldn't be willing to accept the offer. But I have to say that I am glad it never happened. Not because I saved money, but because I prefer to keep my charitable giving totally separate from my business dealings. I like the feeling that the little I give is given voluntarily with no strings attached.
Peter Dzoghi has never filed a complaint with any regulatory agency, and as far as I know he has never accused any insurance company of wrongdoing. And that’s a little surprising, because if a person has a legitimate complaint about an insurance product, and can’t resolve it with the agent, the next logical step would be to seek a resolution with the insurance company, and if necessary, the proper regulatory agency. Peter Dzoghi did none of that. He just waited about 20 years and then posted anonymous reviews on the internet. I think that’s because he knew the insurance companies and regulators would review the records and dismiss his complaint. And he knew that if he disclosed the names of the companies or annuity products I might be able to gain access to those same records and be able to defend myself.
After Yelp and Google kicked him off their sites, Peter created a website (using my name) to continue his slanderous remarks and to publish all kinds of false and misleading information about annuity and investment products that have nothing to do with his variable annuities complaint. His name is nowhere on that website, or although he denies it, he is using my name to spread misinformation and investment advice that could be especially harmful to older readers who need to choose products and services that will protect some or all of the assets they will need for retirement. Instead of recognizing that we all don't have the same tolerance for risk or enough time to recover investment losses, Dzoghi flippantly dismisses many of the more conservative financial products that many scholars and professional advisers often recommend. And somehow he has decided that he knows more about financial products and is more honest than all those experts who believe there is a time and place for low risk financial products. If it weren't so dangerous to unsuspecting readers it would be a joke.
And Peter has a lot of experience testing the limits of what he can get away with. Creating a website that is only one letter different than my own, is not a new strategy for Peter. He has done similar things with toll-free phone numbers, and pretended to be affiliated with major companies like UPS, Jiffy Lube, and others. That is a matter of public record and he did it for financial gain. I could say a lot more about Peter that is not very complimentary but I don't have time for that. On the other hand, if his despicable website is still up and running when I retire I might have a little fun battling with him. If he is as vain and narcissistic as I think he is, he won't like the game.
Peter is so desperate to interfere with my business that he has made many false and misleading comments about investment and insurance products that have nothing to do with the business he and I did together. The only product he ever bought from me was variable annuities. But since I made it known that I have not sold variable annuities for many years he decided to attack every financial product that I do sell. Not because he bought any of them and not because I ever recommended them to him. He does it just because he hopes to cost me a little business. And while he has said he posted his reviews and created his shameful website for the benefit of other consumers, I believe he has published some very bad and dangerous investment advice, and clearly demonstrated that he lacks even a basic understanding of how, when, why to use certain investment and insurance products that are recommended by many scholars and financial services experts.
There is no question that Peter Dzoghi paid substantial surrender charges when he exchanged his variable annuities. And there is no question that Peter and the insurance companies must have thought my recommendations were in his best interest. Otherwise the exchanges would not have taken place. The only question is was Peter Dzoghi aware of the fees and surrender charges, and I believe the company records would prove that he was. He knows that and it is precisely why he refuses to identify the companies and annuity contracts.
I am sure Peter used different fictitious names on Yelp and other sites hoping that readers would think more than one person was complaining, but it was just Peter trying to trick his audience again. I know it will break his heart but Peter should know that even though he may have cost me a few new clients I will never know it. My business has done just fine and I can still proudly say that I have never had a formal customer complaint filed with any company or government agency. And Peter is the only person who has ever posted any sort of negative review on the internet. Outside of overdrawing my own checking account about 60 years ago (all disclosed on BrokerCheck) and getting caught hunting pheasants without a license when I was 12 or 13 (got off with a warning) my record is pretty boring.
C. Thomas Thames, CFP, CLU, ChFC
C. Thomas Thames tel: 916-779-4999
Business Address: 850 Iron Point Road, Suite 155 Folsom, CA 95630
California Insurance License: 0494276
Disclosures: At Thames Financial & Insurance Services our goal is to help our clients achieve their financial objectives. We recommend and sell insurance and annuity products but we also recommend diversification and we believe that many people should have some assets that may involve investment risk. Tom Thames may receive company paid commissions for the sale of insurance and annuity products and may receive fees for certain tax services. All fees are disclosed in advance. This website is not used to provide or offer investment products or investment advisory services. For information about investment services please contact Tom at 916-779-4999 or email@example.com
Investment advisory services offered through Horter Investment Management, LLC, a SEC-Registered Investment Advisor. Horter Investment Management does not provide legal or tax advice. Investment advisor representatives of Horter Investment Management may only conduct business with the residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered or exempt from registration requirements. Insurance and annuity products are sold separately through C. Thomas Thames, California insurance license 0494276. Securities transactions for Horter Investment Management clients are placed through E*TRADE Advisor Services, TD Ameritrade and Nationwide Advisory Solutions.