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LI entrepreneur wins funds to block robocalls

Aaron Foss, 34, of Port Jefferson, has won

Aaron Foss, 34, of Port Jefferson, has won $25,000 in a Federal Trade Commission contest for his idea of a technology to combat robocalls. Credit: Handout

A Long Island-designed solution for avoiding pesky "robocalls," in which computerized voices offer free credit or cruises, now has the imprimatur of the federal government.

Aaron Foss, a Port Jefferson-based software developer, was Tuesday named one of two winners of a Federal Trade Commission-sponsored contest calling for technologies to combat robocalls.

Foss will receive $25,000 for his winning idea, which he has dubbed Nomorobo. Another developer, Serdar Danis, who declined to say where he was from, also took home $25,000 for his solution.

Nomorobo uses telephones' simultaneous ringing function, which allows phone users to route incoming calls to a second phone line. The Nomorobo program on the second line will analyze the caller ID, caller location and call frequency of the incoming call. If it detects a robocall, it will answer and hang up instantly, and the user's phone will never ring in the process.

"Think of it as spam filtering for email, but this is robocalls," Foss said Tuesday in a phone call from Washington, D.C., where he was attending a day of publicity events as a winner of the FTC contest.

Danis' idea was software to block robocalls via a mobile app or electronic device in a home.

The FTC, which announced the contest last August, received nearly 800 submissions. The agency sees about 200,000 complaints each month from consumers about robocalls.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) heralded the contest results Tuesday, saying, "It's good to see that a New Yorker is going to help lead the fight against these spam robocalls."

Foss, who works as a freelance software developer, said he plans to use the $25,000 as seed funding to build Nomorobo, for which he has a patent pending, into a business on Long Island. The FTC will not be implementing the technologies.

Ideally, Foss said he hopes the company, also called Nomorobo, would be able to partner with a phone carrier.

Foss is also the co-founder of SmartChemo -- a software to help pediatric oncologists track chemotherapy orders for their patients -- and a founder of WingDipper, which makes easy-dipping containers for Buffalo wings. He runs both businesses out of his home office in Port Jefferson.

Locally, Foss is also active in the start-up scene, offering mentorship to companies at LaunchPad Long Island, the business incubator space in Mineola, and is a regular at meetings of the Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

With AP

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