Government metrology unit issues warning after fraudsters target scores of IT suppliers

The National Physical Laboratory has warned firms to examine customer communications closely after revealing that scammers have been impersonating its procurement manager and attempting to order valuable enterprise IT equipment

The National Physical Laboratory has warned that scammers are impersonating its procurement staff and attempting to defraud technology suppliers.

The NPL – a government-owned company that serves as the UK’s national institute of metrology: the science of measurement – has published a commercial notice to alert firms of “a fraud operation operating ostensibly under our name [and] targeting ICT suppliers”.

The notice outlines that fraudsters have already targeted 40 IT providers, each of which has been contacted by someone posing as the laboratory’s procurement manager, Gary Phillips.

Scammers will then “seek quotations for ICT equipment – high-end servers and other high-value items – which they will usually ask to be shipped to freight forwarding companies with names such as ‘National Physical Laboratory Goods Receiving Center’ and usually marked for the attention of a ‘Jackie Brown’”, the notice adds.

Tech providers are advised to look out for any contact that purports to be from a representative of the NPL – but does not come from the ‘’ domain. Such communications are “likely to be fraudulent”, the laboratory warns.

“Suppliers are advised to remain diligent and to question anything that looks suspicious by contacting NPL directly – contact details can be found at – or by contacting the real Gary Phillips, who can confirm if any such communication came from himself,” the notice says. “Thank you for your diligence.”

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The NPL’s work includes research and development activities related to various forms of scientific measurement – such as temperature and humidity, optical measures, industrial and environmental sensors, and dimensional measurements. Its experts also cover areas including digital manufacturing, energy storage, magnetics, nuclear decommissioning, microwaves, underwater acoustics.

The organisation’s website says: “We are the UK’s national metrology institute, a world-leading centre of excellence that provides cutting-edge measurement science, engineering and technology that underpins prosperity and quality of life in the UK. We provide confidence in measurement results and data traceable to SI units.”

The laboratory, which generated revenue of almost £130m in the 2022 calendar, operates as a public corporation wholly owned by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

PublicTechnology had contacted the NPL and was awaiting response at time of going to press.

Sam Trendall

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