Emissions cheating software found in hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen cars has led to a lawsuit filed by the federal government.

FOX's Gurnal Scott explains:

The justice department acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, says the German automaker used fraudulent software to get its "clean diesel" engines to meet federal emissions standards.

Nearly 600,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. dating back to the 2009 model year had the software programmed into them. VW's violations of the clean air act could potentially cost the company more than $18-billion in fines.

The government alleges the deception did not accurately say how much pollution Volkswagen cars produced and may have caused illnesses and even deaths.

Volkswagen is investigating the scheme internally.

Gurnal Scott, FOX News.