Not a scam. I've been researching for them for several years, and have been very pleased with the experience. You don't get paid for your time...it's more of a contest. You submit relevant research and the highest quality submissions win cash awards. There are numerous types of awards (and one category of guaranteed payments for invited "Experts").
Most of the time you don't win, but when you do, you can earn thousands of dollars.
Hope that helps.
In a strict sense no it is not; if you provide something really good i.e. something that knocks out a patent then you will get paid (in around 3 or 4 months) when you do a validity search.
But as with all things in life, there is a down side to it. Try to avoid state of the art searches as they are the easiest ones and usually a winner is awarded "instantly", if you are a "member". What I noticed is that even if you provide 3 really good references, AOP will not increase your submissions (or will increase it 2 days beore the search ends) and thus you will not have a chance to submit more, whilst "members" will have this option and win the prize. In this way the house always wins. Use these searches to increase your in scope submissions which has to be 10% or more in order to be eligible for the prize.
The validity searches are the most promising. As I said earlier, you have to find a really good reference in order to get the award which is not 4500 but 2000 USD while at the same time beating competition.
As always you never know what other people have submitted or how many submissions have been made; you are always in the dark.
Hope this helps to clarify free labour in the digital world...
It is basically a scam. Lot of bait and switch tactics. The amount paid is rarely the amount listed for each study. There's no transparency. The rubric is not used consistently and is very subjective. Updates to studies will contradict previous "leads". Website is difficult to navigate and the content within the same webpage will contradict itself.
Basically they're crowd sourcing the work that their clients pay them to do. Definitely not worth the time.