Feds shut down Calif debt collectors

POSTED: 03:11 PM PDT Aug 01, 2013 
WASHINGTON -

Federal officials say they are shutting down a California group of debt collectors for alleged extortion, humiliating debtors by calling their friends, employers and families, and making false threats of lawsuits.

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it's using a temporary restraining order to halt four people accused of operating an elaborate debt collection scheme under seven different company names in Orange and Riverside counties.

The agency says Thai Han, Jim Tran Phelps, Keith Hua and James Novella frequently changed company names to avoid law enforcement.

Using a court order, the agency has frozen their assets and has appointed a temporary receiver to handle the defendants' business while they proceed with the case.

It wasn't immediately known if the accused have legal representation.