Interactive Investor

How I nearly fell for a £2,500 double glazing scam

30th May 2022 14:01

Alice Guy from interactive investor

Alice Guy reveals how she nearly lost £2,500 to a double-glazing scam last year. She explains how fraudsters are targeting pension investors and explores how to spot and avoid pension scams.

Simple double glazing scam

It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2021 when we decided to finally order new double glazing for our 1940s, expensive-to-heat bungalow. Quotes in, we ordered the windows, feeling very pleased that we’d managed to negotiate a good price from a small, local company. It cost £5,200 for several windows including two bay windows and a large French window.

Like so much during the Covid crisis, the windows were on a long delay as the suppliers were behind with orders. No problem as we weren’t in a rush.

Tricked by an email

Around six weeks later I checked in with the sales manager and asked when we could expect our order.

I received a reply later that day from that same sales manager confirming that the windows would be delivered early next month. He went on to ask for some money up front.

“Hi Alice” he said, “Thank you for your email, I can confirm delivery will be early next month. I would be glad if you can make a transfer of 50% of the total quote as an up front deposit so we can pay our suppliers for a quick delivery. And to secure you a full booking as I won't want any delay in your work. Balance after completion of all work.”

He went on to explain that he could forward me the bookkeeper’s details if that was OK.

He signed off the email with the name of the sales manager.

Being an awkward customer

I was super-annoyed, as I wasn’t expecting to pay any more before the windows were installed. But it didn’t occur to me I could be talking to a scammer. The email had come straight from the sales manager, was written in good English and was at the top of a long email chain.

I checked our contract and found out that I was right. The balance wasn’t owed until completion.

Again, it was a bit weird, but didn’t ring any alarms bells. Maybe the double-glazing firm was having some cashflow problems.

Still, being an awkward so-and-so, I emailed back and refused to pay. He backed down and said he would check with the accounts department on the balance due.

As a busy Mum of four, I put the whole thing to the back of my mind and thought no more of it.

I’d been talking to a scammer

Weeks later when the company phoned to book in the fitting, I happened to mention the weird email. I said that I wouldn’t be paying up front as the email requested and asked them to confirm what was owing.

It was only then that they thought to tell me the facts: their sales manager’s email had been hacked by a scammer!

Thanks for telling me guys! I had been talking to a scammer all along!

£2 million pension scams

Even though I didn’t end up falling for the scam, it was more luck than judgement and I still felt really stupid. How could I not have realised it was a scam?

My experience got me thinking about other financial scams and how easy it is to fall for one.

And even pension investors aren’t immune. In 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that scammers had targeted at least £2 million in pension savings in the previous six months.

Scammers often seduce customers by offering them a free pension review and then persuading them to transfer their pension.

Amazingly, the FCA’s research found that pension investors were nine times more likely to accept advice from someone online than a stranger they met in person.

Can you spot a pension scam?

The FCA also found that many people aren’t aware of the common signs of a pension scam.

When quizzed, 68% of investors were confident that they could spot a scam, but the reality was very different. In fact, a mere 40% knew to watch out when transferring a pension and only a shocking 28% realised that a free pension review was a sign of a scam.

So, what are those tell-tale signs of a pension scam?

  • Being offered a free pension review out of the blue.
  • An adviser or pension company offering access to your pension before you turn 55.
  • Being advised to invest in something unusual such as overseas property, forestry, renewable energy bonds or storage units and promised ultra-high returns.
  • Being asked to act quickly to secure a deal.

How to protect yourself from pension scams

So, how can you make sure your pension and investments are safe and protect yourself from pension scams?

Here are some simple tips:

  • Beware of free offers as genuine financial advice usually comes with a fee.
  • Carry out an internet search on the adviser or company. If you can’t find the details, then it’s potentially a pension scam.
  • Check the FCA warning list if you think something might be a potential scam.
  • Make sure the pension provider is regulated by the FCA and is on their Financial Services Register.


When it comes to spotting a pension scam it’s important not to let your guard down.

Our pension and investments are hard won through years of blood, sweat, anxiety and toil and it pays to protect them with all we’ve got.

If you need to make a big decision about your pension, then don’t be rushed. Be that awkward customer: take your time, do your research, sleep on your decision and don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions.

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