It has been a year, and I've still not received my prize money.
So yes, the reputation they've developed for not following through on the advertised award money (see Movie Bytes) is now supported by my personal experience.
I've been contacted by some other "winners" whose communication with FADE IN MAGAZINE has likewise been ignored, and we're discussing starting yet another class action lawsuit against them. It is the second that I am aware of. I also have had an in-depth conversation in person with a vocal winner from years ago who finally took them to small claims court, and had his reputation smeared by them online for his troubles.
For the life of me, if you do the math of how many entrants they have a year times their contest fee, I can't understand how they continue to legally operate while allegedly consistently not paying out a comparable paltry award amount each year.
Particularly since the instant I placed, I was contacted by several colleagues in the industry and warned of this very scenario. In a town where you are nothing but your reputation, I'm surprised this business has continued to flourish.
In the meantime, don't take my title from them as an endorsement of their contest. To the best of my knowledge, there was also no release to industry trades of the contest or any attempt to inform production companies. And no one (agent, producer, etc.) has ever contacted me because of they heard of my screenplay through FADE IN MAGAZINE.
(By the way, it might be apples to oranges, but my other screenwriting contest experience was with CREATIVE SCREENWRITNG MAGAZINE three months later. They threw a banquet for us, handed me my check onstage at the Expo, and sent out notices to production companies and trades within a month, apologizing that it took so long.)