Federal regulators have shut down a Southern California debt collection firm accused of harassing debtors by threatening to kill pets and dig up dead relatives.

The Ventura County Star ( http://bit.ly/qDF5MR) said Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission halted operations and froze the assets of the business that operated under a variety of names.

Owners David Hynes Jr. and wife Lorena Quiroz-Hynes are charged with violating the Federal Trade Commission Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Defense lawyer Christopher Pitet says they deny the allegations.

The FTC says a collector told a woman unable to pay the balance on her daughter's funeral bill that they were going to dig up the body and hang her from a tree if she didn't pay. Officials say she was also told they would take her dog and eat it.