"Storage Wars" -- the hit A&E show -- is deceiving viewers by making it seem contestants are bidding on unseen items, when the best goods are actually planted inside ... this according to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ.
The lawsuit -- filed by the former star, David Hester -- claims he was axed when he complained to producers about the alleged rigging practices.
Hester claims in one case producers planted a BMW mini car under a pile of trash. In another case, Hester alleges producers planted a pile of old newspapers that announced the death of Elvis. For some reason, that's a valuable commodity.
And Hester goes on ... claiming the show even gave less than photogenic cast members money for plastic surgery to "create more sex appeal."
Hester claims in the suit he was wrongfully terminated because he blew the whistle.
But Dan Dotson -- the guy behind the show's auction company -- disagrees, telling TMZ, every unit seen on the show is legit and has a seal on it before they open it ... making it impossible for A&E to tamper with the units before filming begins.
Dan adds, “We only sell legitimate units on Storage Wars. Every unit goes through a 64-day legal process and no one has access to units prior to auction.”
A rep for A&E tells TMZ, "We do not know about a lawsuit being filed and we do not comment on pending or threatened litigation."