College applicants are being warned about a scam which could cheat them out of a Government grant.

Police issued the warning after a conman was reported calling door-to-door claiming to be from Brighton and Hove's education department.

The scam involves persuading people to apply for an Individual Learning Account (ILA), a government scheme which helps pay towards the cost of adult education classes.

However, their money is then cashed by the conman before it is claimed by the student.

Deborah Smith, 46, fell victim after she was persuaded to fill in the forms on her doorstep in Elm Drive, Hangleton, last month for an ILA worth £200.

The forms are widely available to apply for the grants.

Two weeks later the conman rang her up and asked for her ILA pin number.

Ms Smith, who lives with her two sons on income support, said: "I'm a single mother and I have very little money. This opportunity was offered to me and then taken away by a criminal."

Carolyn Bond, a spokeswoman for Brighton police, said: "We are investigating this case and would advise people not to give personal details over the phone to people they do not know. The public should be aware that when filling in forms, the information can be used in this way."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Employment said officials would be investigating Ms Smith's case to see if her account could be reimbursed.

She said: "This is not the first case of providers not being what they seem. The Government is taking steps to clamp down on this. We take all allegations of improper behaviour seriously."

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed nobody from the education department had been going door-to-door offering ILAs to residents.