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World Cup fans 'lose thousands as firm collapses'

Police were today investigating claims by football fans who said they have lost thousands of pounds after buying World Cup packages to South Africa from an internet company which then told them it had collapsed.

Brighton-based BYT UK offered a range of packages for the tournament, from a £1,750 budget deal to a £3,800 package which included the finals, all with accommodation in three-star game lodges.

Mark Ashton said he paid more than £3,000 for a two-week trip to watch the qualifying stages in June but became concerned when the company was unable to provide any invoices for him and his four friends' flights and accommodation.

Mr Ashton, who paid for the package through Paypal, said his party received an email from the company to say it was going into liquidation and the matter was in the hands of their accountants.

He told the Brighton Argus: "We are all now devastated that those dreams have been shattered. Personally I paid over 45 days ago so will not get my money back from Paypal due to their rules."

Other customers have also said they fear their money is lost.

The company's website was still running today but there was no answer on the phone number posted on it.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said the investigation is only in its early stages.

She said: "Sussex Police are to investigate a web-based company following complaints from several members of the public who bought tickets for the Fifa World Cup from them.

"The company has been offering tickets for the football World Cup in June, however it appears it has recently ceased trading and is unable to supply the tickets."

Click here for World Cup advice from the Foreign Office.