Whispers that investigators had recruited an insider spread quickly through the Immigration Department, but few really knew the significance of the development.
In the underworld of shonky migration agents, crooked employers and cashed-up visa applicants, Mr X was a rare prize indeed.
Leaked department documents reveal that by the time immigration agents had finished debriefing MrX in 2009 as part of an operation code-named Pine, he had identified up to a dozen corrupt migration agents and at least 40 employers who had been bribed to provide fraudulent work references.
The scam had earned Mr X at least $6 million and the fraudulent references had been used by thousands of visa applicants to meet requirements for the "support of visa applicants and skills assessment applications".
Mr X's information backed up what Immigration had been told by other informers about widespread fraud and rorting of Australia's visa program. The leaked documents state that "based on testimony from applicants and informants, the street value of a fraudulent work reference ranges from between $4000 and $10,000, generally paid in cash".
The documents make it clear that the department's investigation team believed Mr X provided a rare opportunity to target a network of organised criminals involved in migration crime. Furthermore, investigators had independently corroborated many of Mr X's allegations.
"Evidence uncovered to date indicates that fraud within the general skilled migration program is extensive with estimates at around 90 per cent … this equates to more than 40,000 suspect visa applications lodged per year for the last three years."
The investigators also realised there were limits to what they could do, however. As the file on Mr X's allegations states: "Resourcing constraints presently restrict DIAC's ability to adequately address these issues and we request AFP assistance in forming a joint taskforce." No joint taskforce would ever be formed and the suspect migration agents, businesses and facilitators were left to continue operating with impunity.