Held under guard, followed around and not knowing where she was, a rescued German model tells of her trauma Arnika Kirsch, 22, thought she was embarking on an exotic catwalk assignment in Hong Kong when she left her native Germany. Instead, within barely a week, she says she found herself trapped under guard in Shenzhen with three other international models. All faced a spiralling cycle of debt and no apparent prospect of modelling work, and worried about who they were dealing with. 'It was scary,' she said in a sworn statement provided to the South China Morning Post after her rescue by a private hostage-recovery team from Hong Kong. 'They didn't give me a map, I didn't know where I was, and I had no possibility to talk to anybody. 'Walking outside the apartment seemed to be really dangerous. One time, a van followed us. 'We had nothing to do the whole day.' She later told her rescuers she had been living in fear for her safety and well-being. She had serious concerns about the nature of the operation she had been tricked into. The Hong Kong-based hostage recovery team, including five former security force members, retrieved Ms Kirsch a week ago at the behest of her Swiss-based talent agent and returned her to Munich. The agent was alerted to Ms Kirsch's plight by an e-mail she sent after managing to slip into an internet cafe. Phil Curlewis, the senior private investigator who headed the rescue mission, said: 'It seems bogus modelling agents are now branching out to bring in foreign models and then imprisoning them ... in a horrible nightmare ....' Ms Kirsch said she wanted to warn other models about the risks of dealing with unscrupulous agents in Hong Kong. Mr Curlewis, of Curlewis and Associates, said he was concerned about the three other girls, including a 16-year-old Brazilian model, left behind. 'When we picked up Arnika she was clearly deeply traumatised. Her eyes were glazed, she was unable to speak properly for three days, and she said the other girls were locked up crying the whole time. 'She seemed to be suffering mild post-traumatic stress syndrome. We asked if the other girls wanted to be evacuated but she said they were too fearful to leave.' The models were being duped with promises of a modelling contract in Hong Kong by a ruthless city-based agency, he said. On arrival, they were stripped of their return air tickets and travel documents and taken to the mainland. It is feared they are being forced to work as hostesses, escorts and even prostitutes to repay their fares, visa fees and rent in Shenzhen. Mr Curlewis said: 'This was technically a kidnapping.' He said the case had been referred to Hong Kong Police and the Consumer Council for investigation. Numerous efforts to contact for comment the agency which employed Ms Kirsch were unsuccessful, with office staff refusing to speak or return calls.